Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

House Passes Aviation Security Bill; Senate Confrontation Expected

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

House Passes Aviation Security Bill; Senate Confrontation Expected

Article excerpt

On November 1, the House of Representatives passed an aviation security bill by a 286 to 139 vote. Its passage comes weeks after the Senate unanimously passed its own version, S.1447. The Senate version of aviation security legislation calls for the federalization of all airport security personnel under the direction of the U.S. Department of Justice.

GOP leaders in the House were adamantly opposed to the federalization of airport security personnel and therefore stalled consideration of the aviation legislation for weeks. The debate boils down to the appropriate role of the federal government in the aviation security process. The House leaders support the President's plan to allow the contract workers to be used for baggage and passenger screening.

In its version of the aviation security bill, H.R.3150, the GOP calls for the creation of a new Transportation Security Administration headed by a new Under Secretary of Transportation within the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). The person in this new position would oversee airport security, although the actual security work could be contracted out to private companies.

Under intense pressure from House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-Texas), other House leaders and President Bush, the House rejected an alternative proposal, H.R. 2951, sponsored by Rep. Greg Ganske (R-Iowa) by a close vote of 214 to 218. The Ganske bill mirrored the Senate-passed bill.

H.R. 3150 also requires the random deployment of Federal Air Marshals on domestic flights and for the placement of federal and state law enforcement at each screening location. …

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