House Passes 9/11 Security Bill
House passes bill to implement some 9/11 committee recommendations
Bill would require search of all cargo entering U.S.
Bill would change way states receive security funds
Other agenda issues: minimum wage, prescription drugs, college loans
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The first item on the House Democrats' "100 hours" legislative agenda, a measure to implement some of the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, passed on Tuesday evening.
The vote was 299-128.
Nearly 70 Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the package. It mandates full inspection of air and sea cargo entering the United States and shifts more homeland security funding to communities with high-risk terror targets. (Watch what House leaders plan to do in 100 hours Video)
The House spent about six and a half hours of floor time considering the measure, which leaves about 93 hours and 40 minutes on the Democrats' 100-hour clock.
The bill was backed by former commission members Lee Hamilton and Tim Roemer, who also is a former Republican congressman.
"If this bill ... is enacted, funded and implemented, then the American people will be safer," Hamilton said Monday.
Hamilton, a former Democratic House member, estimated that about half of the commission's recommendations have not yet been implemented.
"We are -- all of us on the 9/11 commission -- deeply pleased that the speaker and the leadership of the House have decided to put this bill forward with the No. 1 designation," Hamilton said.
Some criticized the speed with which the measure was pushed through.
"To make it part of a 100-hour show shamefully trivializes an issue of life or death," Rep. Peter King of New York, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, told The Associated Press. (Full story)
Democrats, who took control of both the House and Senate last week for the first time in more than a decade, declined to cite the bill's total price tag, according to AP. (Watch King blast "window dressing" Video)
Next up, the House on Wednesday will consider a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over the next two years.
Six major pieces
In the run-up to November's midterm election, House Democrats vowed that if they won a majority, they would put the country on a new course by passing six major pieces of legislation addressing Democratic priorities, in just 100 hours of floor time.
Other Democratic legislative goals during the countdown include lobbying reform, raising the national minimum wage, reducing prescription drug costs for seniors and cutting college loan interest rates for students.
A national poll released last week indicated that Democrats have strong support for nearly all the measures they want to pass in their first days in charge.
However, before the "100 hours" of legislation can become law, it must clear the Senate, which operates at a more languid pace, and President Bush could use his veto pen to derail measures he finds objectionable.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, said Monday that under the provisions of H.R. 1, all air cargo entering the nation would be screened within three years and all shipped cargo in about four years.
The way homeland security funds are distributed to states would also change under the bill, said House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi.
"All states will receive a minimum amount of funding, but the rest of the money will be targeted based on risks," Thompson said.
Lawmakers from New York and other states with potential terror targets have long complained that too much of the federal funding earmarked for homeland security is being sent to states and communities where the risk of an attack is low.
The House resolution will also require federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to better share information, and it sets up a grant program to fund communications improvements so that all first responders can talk to each other over "interoperable" systems, Thompson said.
Bill would reorganize intelligence oversight
In a move aimed at addressing another key recommendation of the 9/11 commission, the House is also expected take up a separate measure Tuesday to create a new select committee designed to better integrate U.S. intelligence oversight with the appropriations process.
The new panel would include members from both the Intelligence Committee, which authorizes and oversees intelligence programs, and the Appropriations Committee, which holds the purse strings.
"We will have the ability of both committees to work together to see to it that we conduct oversight not only of budget actions, but also of activities of the intelligence community," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wisconsin, chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
The 9/11 commission recommended that intelligence oversight by Congress be reorganized, calling it "dysfunctional."
The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall. - Che Guevara
Resistance Films Youtube Channel