U.S. Congressional Legislation

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Cargo security. The House of Representatives and the Senate have both approved the appropriations bill (H.R. 2555) for the Department of Homeland Security. The bill has been sent to the president for his signature. The measures include a cargo security provision that would allow federal funding only for cargo security plans that include screening measures.

Fire safety. A bill (S. 1566) introduced by Sen. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) would give businesses tax incentives to install automatic fire sprinkler systems. Businesses that install the systems would be able to claim tax write-offs spread out over a five-year period rather than as a standard business deduction, which is spread out over 39 years.

S. 1566 has no cosponsors and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Surveillance. A bill (S. 1552) introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) would revoke some of the law enforcement powers bestowed under the USA Patriot Act. Under S. 1552, law enforcement agencies would be required to obtain court orders to conduct electronic surveillance. The bill would also increase judicial oversight of law enforcement monitoring of telephone and Internet communications. In addition, the bill would limit the government's ability to access the personal information of citizens such as medical, library, and Internet records.

S. 1551 has one cosponsor and has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Terrorism. Three bills under consideration in Congress would influence the investigation and prosecution of terrorism offenses. One bill seeks to combat terrorist financing, while another would increase penalties for certain actions relating to terrorism. A third proposal would track incidents of environmental terrorism.

H.R. 3016, introduced by Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA), would facilitate the prosecution of any person or organization financing terrorism. To protect confidential information of companies that might have been unknowingly used to launder terrorist funds, the bill includes a provision that such information can be given in confidence during a prosecution, rather than publicly released as part of the official record. In prosecuting money laundering in terrorism cases, the government would be allowed to pursue dependent transactions--defined as transactions that complete or complement another transaction or that would not have occurred but for another transaction. H.R. 3016 has no cosponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, the House International Relations Committee, and the House Financial Services Committee.

Another bill (H.R. 3036), introduced by Pep. Mark Green (R-W-I), would increase the penalties for obstruction of justice and utterance of false statements in terrorism cases. Under the proposed legislation, committing such crimes is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Current law allows a maximum sentence of five years in prison. H.R. 3036 has no cosponsors and has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

The third bill (H.R. 2942), introduced by Rep. Darlene Hooley (D-OR), would establish a national clearinghouse for incidents of environmental terrorism. …