Veto Looms Over Homeland Security Bill

Differences remain with legislation the House passed in January, and the White House threatened a veto over a provision to give airport screeners limited bargaining rights.


Former Rep. Tim Roehmer, D-Ind., a member of the 9/11 Commission, asked whether it was "worth vetoing a bill that improves our national security, when al-Qaida is regrouping around the world, over a provision for limited collective bargaining?"

The administration has also voiced objections to House language requiring screening of U.S. cargo in foreign ports or inspection of aircraft cargo, citing expense and practicality concerns.

The 9/11 Commission issued 41 recommendations in July 2004 covering tighter domestic security, reforms of intelligence-gathering and congressional oversight and foreign policy adjustments.

The White House and Congress have followed through on some suggestions, including creating a director of national intelligence to oversee the intelligence community and enacting a port security bill.

The Senate bill largely ignores a recommendation concerning its own Homeland Security affairs - that there be a streamlining of committees with a say over intelligence policy and funding.

On the final day of the two-week debate, the Senate rejected an amendment by Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, D-Del., that would allow for rerouting trains carrying hazardous materials through urban areas. The Senate also rejected amendments by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., requiring the Homeland Security Department to abide by the same financial transparency laws that other agencies must follow.

The defeat of the Biden amendment came as the House Homeland Security Committee accepted similar rerouting language, introduced by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., as part of a rail security bill.

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The bill is S 4.

On the Net:

Transportation Security Administration: http://www.tsa.gov

Department of Homeland Security: http://www.dhs.gov


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