The House passed a bill Wednesday enacting several recommendations of the 9/11 commission, accomplishing the first of several “first 100 hours” initiatives put forth by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the Democratic-led 110th Congress.
The bill, which passed 299-128, had the support of all voting Democrats and about one-third of voting Republicans. It includes new mandates to:
- Screen all air and ship-borne cargo (by 2010 and 2013, respectively).
- Determine anti-terrorism federal aid to states on the basis of risk rather than population.
- Provide funds to improve the communications gear used by emergency agencies.
- Enact a series of measures designed "to accelerate and strengthen progress on preventing weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorism."
- Create an independent, four-person Privacy and Civil Liberties Board to monitor homeland security efforts.
The bill faces an uncertain status in the Senate. Last year, 56 senators (including seven Democrats) voted against a measure which would have required that all containers sent to U.S. ports be scanned by 2010. Many in opposition argued that existing technology could not perform the task without damaging the flow of commerce. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said that he hopes by month's end to draft and pass a Senate bill “that will take steps forward to adopt some of the un-adopted, unimplemented or inadequately implemented parts” of proposals recommended by the bipartisan commission.
Congresspedia has created a page on congressional efforts to implement recommendations of the 9/11 commission and will continue to update it as the Senate considers legislation on the matter. Stay tuned!