What: All Issues : Making Government Work for Everyone, Not Just the Rich or Powerful : Adequate Funding for Homeland Security : H R 2555. Department of Homeland Security Appropriations/Vote to Recommit to Committee a Spending Bill for the Department of Homeland Security with Instructions to Require the Screening of All Cargo Shipped By Passenger Aircraft. (2003 house Roll Call 514)
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H R 2555. Department of Homeland Security Appropriations/Vote to Recommit to Committee a Spending Bill for the Department of Homeland Security with Instructions to Require the Screening of All Cargo Shipped By Passenger Aircraft.
house Roll Call 514     Sep 24, 2003
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

In perhaps the largest reorganization of government conducted in the last fifty years, Congress in 2002 merged numerous federal agencies involved in fighting terrorism into a new Department of Homeland Security. In June 2003, the House adopted the first appropriations bill to fund the new Department and the Senate followed suit in July 2003. To iron out differences between the two versions of the legislation, a conference committee was convened and a conference report was finalized in September. To become law, however, a conference report (the final version of a piece of legislation) must be adopted by each legislative body and signed by the president (or passed by a two-thirds supermajority by Congress after a presidential veto). Prior to final passage in the House, Congressman Sabo (D-MN) motioned to recommit the conference report to committee with instructions to add language to the bill which would prevent the transport of unscreened cargo on passenger flights. Progressives supported Sabo's motion because, in their view, the transport of unscreened cargo-a common practice in the airline industry in which extra space in a plane's cargo hold is used for the transport of commercial goods-represented a loophole in the bill which terrorists could exploit (unlike passenger luggage, commercial cargo does not pass through a security screening). Conservatives opposed the motion because, in their view, current technology is not sufficiently advanced to enable the screening of all cargo shipped by passenger airplanes. On a party line vote of 198-226, the motion to recommit was defeated, the screening requirement for cargo holds on passenger flights was excluded from the conference report, and the measure was allowed to proceed to a final vote. (The conference report subsequently passed both houses of Congress and was signed by the president.)

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