What: All Issues : Labor Rights : Rights of Individuals in the Workplace : H.R. 1401 (Rail and Public Transportation Security Act), manager's amendment by Thompson of Mississippi to give the Transportation Department control over administering bus and rail security grant funding/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 house Roll Call 194)
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H.R. 1401 (Rail and Public Transportation Security Act), manager's amendment by Thompson of Mississippi to give the Transportation Department control over administering bus and rail security grant funding/On agreeing to the amendment
house Roll Call 194     Mar 27, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This vote was on an amendment by Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) on a bill to authorize over $6 billion over four years to improve bus and rail security.

Thompson was a cosponsor of the legislation, and this amendment was what's known as "manager's amendment." In this case, the manager's amendment reflected compromise language that Thompson and Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) agreed upon after both panels had written their own versions of the transit security legislation. The principle disagreement was over whether the Transportation or Homeland Security department should distribute the funds outlined in the bill.

The compromise language included in this amendment would give the Transportation Department control over administering the grants, although they would still be technically housed in the Homeland Security Department. The latter would make funding recommendations based on the agency's vulnerability assessments, and both departments would audit the programs.

Thompson hailed the legislation as "an important milestone" in protecting the country's transit systems and expressed his gratitude that the two committees were able to overcome the jurisdictional fights that had stalled the bill for weeks. Many Republicans complained that the bill was potentially wasteful, and in the words of the ranking Republican on the Transportation panel, Rep. John Mica (Fla.), would distribute funds "willy-nilly."

Many Republicans were also critical of strengthened whistleblower protections included in the manager's amendment. The House already passed similar protections barring retribution against employees who expose fraud, waste and corruption in an earlier bill that had yet to make it to the president's desk. The White House threatened to veto this legislation on account of the whistleblower provision, claiming that it would undermine the government's ability to protect information related to national security.

Republicans were further opposed to the manager's amendment because it sought to prevent state and local first-responders from receiving grant funding directly.

Republicans unanimously opposed the multi-faceted amendment to the $6 billion transit security bill, and three Democrats joined them in voting "no." The Democratic majority had enough cushion to pass the amendment anyway, and by a vote of 224-199 the House passed compromise language that settled internal party squabbles as to how the grant money in the $6 billion transportation security bill was to be distributed.

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