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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly


[Congressional Record: September 5, 2002 (Extensions)]
[Page E1506-E1507]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:cr05se02-32]                         



 
                     HOMELAND SECURITY ACT OF 2002

                                 ______
                                 

                               speech of

                            HON. MARK UDALL

                              of colorado

                    in the house of representatives

                         Friday, July 26, 2002

       The House in Committee of the Whole House on the State of 
     Union had under consideration the bill (H.R. 5005) to 
     establish the Department of Homeland Security, and for other 
     purposes:

  Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of this bill. 
I do have some concerns about it, but I think it deserves to be passed.
  I am united with my colleagues and with the President in a shared 
determination to win the war against terrorism. We must do everything 
we can to reduce the risks of further attacks. I believe we must 
reorganize our government to meet that goal.
  What we have chosen to take on in the aftermath of September 11th is 
an enormous task, the largest reorganization of the government in half 
a century, a total rethinking of how we approach security. We need to 
plan for the protection of all domestic people, places, and things. We 
need to fundamentally restructure our government to be more responsive 
to terrorism.
  This is a tall order. Homeland security has always been an important 
responsibility of Federal, state and local governments. But in the 
aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the scope of this responsibility 
has broadened.
  The bill before us has much in common with a report that we received 
just last year from a commission headed by former Senators Gary Hart of 
Colorado and Warren Rudman of New Hampshire. The report recommended 
sweeping changes, including the establishment of a Department of 
Homeland Security.
  I have reviewed the commission's report carefully and discussed it 
with Senator Hart, and I have been impressed with the soundness of the 
report's recommendations. I have also cosponsored two bills dealing 
with this subject.
  So I am glad that the President has come to agree that a new 
Department of Homeland Security is necessary.
  The question we face today is whether the bill before us is up to the 
challenge. Will this bill actually make the American people safer? I'm 
not entirely certain. I believe this bill generally heads in the night 
direction, but it still contains a number of troubling provisions.
  One concern I have is that in our rush to create this new department, 
we may be assembling an unwieldy bureaucracy instead of a nimble 
department that can be quick to respond to the challenges at hand. The 
proposed department's size, cost and speed may well hamper its ability 
to fight terrorism. We need to recognize that no department can do 
everything. Homeland security will be the primary responsibility of the 
new department, but it will also continue to be the responsibility of 
other departments, of states and local governments, and of all 
Americans.
  It's also true that many of the agencies that will be subsumed by 
this new department have multiple functions, some of them having 
nothing to do with security. That's why I think it's right that the 
bill abolishes the INS and includes its enforcement bureau in the new 
DHS, while leaving a bureau of immigration services in the Department 
of Justice. I also think it's right that the bill moves only the 
agricultural import and entry inspection functions of the Animal and 
Plant Health Inspection Service into the new department, while leaving 
the rest of the service--;including the unit that investigates chronic 
wasting disease and other possibly contagious diseases--;intact. I 
believe this same model should apply to the Federal Emergency 
Management Administration, or FEMA, which this bill would move as a 
whole into the new department. While it may seem that FEMA--;as the 
central agency in charge of disaster response and emergency 
management--;should constitute the heart of the new DHS, FEMA is 
primarily engaged in and especially effective at responding to natural 
hazards. This bill should leave FEMA outside the new department, or at 
a minimum transfer its Office of National Preparedness to the new 
department, while leaving FEMA's Disaster Response and Recovery and 
Mitigation Directorates intact. I voted today to leave FEMA outside the 
new department because I fear FEMA's current mission and focus will be 
lost in the new bureaucracy we are creating.
  I am hopeful that the President will continue to work with the 
Congress to make sure the agencies moved to the new Department will be 
supported in their many other important duties even as they focus anew 
on their security roles.
  I have other concerns aside from the organization of the agency.
  The bill includes language that denies basic civil service 
protections for the federal workers who would be transferred to the new 
department. While I am encouraged by the passage of two amendments that 
slightly improve the bill's language in these areas, I remain fearful 
for the 170,000-plus employees of the new DHS whose jobs this bill 
would put at risk in an attempt to give the President ``flexibility'' 
to manage in a ``war-time'' situation. That's why I voted for 
amendments to preserve collective bargaining rights, whistleblower 
protections, and civil service rules that have protected career 
employees for over 75 years. I don't believe we should use the creation 
of a new department as an excuse to take away these protections--
;protections that Congress enacted so that we could attract the very 
best to government service. Taking away these protections now signals 
that we don't value our federal workers, their hard-won rights, or the 
integral role these workers will continue to play as part of the new 
department in the fight against terrorism.
  I also supported an amendment striking the overly broad exemptions in 
the bill to the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, which was designed 
to preserve openness and accountability in government. The bill 
includes a provision excluding information voluntarily submitted to the 
new department from requests for disclosure; it would also preempt 
state disclosure laws. FOIA does not require the disclosure of national 
security information, sensitive law enforcement information, or 
confidential business information, which makes the exemptions to FOIA 
in this bill unnecessary in my view.
  I think that these parts of the bill will need to be revised, and I 
will do all I can to improve them.
  There is one provision we debated today that I do think should remain 
in the bill. Last

[[Page E1507]]

year, I strongly supported the airport security bill because I believed 
then--;as I do now--;that we must protect the public from a repetition 
of terrorist hijackings. One key part of that is to have baggage 
screened to safeguard against explosives being smuggled aboard 
airplanes in checked luggage.
  But today I voted to extend the baggage screening deadline 
established in the airport security bill because it doesn't make sense 
to me to mandate a deadline that clearly is impossible for a quarter of 
airports in this country to meet. It has been clear for some time that 
although 75% of airports would be able to meet the December 31st 
deadline, 25% of this country's largest airports would not. Denver 
International Airport (DIA) is among those airports still waiting for 
the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to approve its 
security plan.
  DLA has developed its own plan that would employ a baggage-screening 
system that costs approximately $85 million to implement, versus $130 
million for the system currently approved for use in the U.S. The bill 
before us today allows TSA to incrementally address individual airport 
requirements like DIA and accommodate new technology improvements.
  I am a cosponsor of legislation that would extend the deadline 
because I believe DIA will be able to provide a better, more cost-
effective baggage screening system than the current TSA-approved model 
given a bit more time. So I am pleased that this bill includes an 
extension on the baggage screening system.
  In summary, I am pleased that this bill echoes the overall approach 
of the Hart-Rudman report recommendations. I am also pleased that the 
bill includes important Science Committee contributions, such as the 
one establishing an Undersecretary for Science and Technology in the 
new department, as well as provisions I offered in the Science 
Committee markup requiring the new department and NIST to engage in a 
systematic review and upgrading of voluntary consensus standards. I 
believe it is important that the bill includes a provision reaffirming 
the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the use of the armed forces 
for civil law enforcement. And it is important that the bill prohibits 
the government from implementing the proposed ``Operation TIPS,'' an 
Orwellian program under which designated citizens would be trained to 
look for and report suspicious behavior on the part of their fellow 
citizens.
  Despite the problems in the bill, I am voting for it today because I 
remain committed to a strong, effective Department of Homeland 
Security. I am hopeful that the problematic issues I highlighted and 
other concerns will be successfully addressed in the conference 
committee.

                          ____________________






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