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[Congressional Record: November 18, 2002 (Senate)]
[Page S11243]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                           HOMELAND SECURITY

  Mr. THOMAS. Mr. President, I just listened to the two Senators who 
are probably most involved with the details of this homeland security 
bill--very interesting comments. I have been, frankly, disappointed 
that it has taken us as long as it has. We have been on this measure, I 
understand, now for about 7 weeks, and we are still not finished--a 
bill that needs to be finished. It needs to be there for security. Yet 
we continue to debate and worry over issues that are not as significant 
as the passage of this bill.
  I hope we are getting closer to passing a homeland security bill. It 
is our responsibility to do that. I am almost embarrassed that we are 
  I am pleased that cloture was invoked and that we can move forward on 
this bill that gives the President the tools he needs to protect our 
  We have talked about the details. That is good. On the other hand, 
there are provisions in there that generally most everyone would agree 
we ought to be moving forward with: Immigration, to change the 
reorganization of that department so that you have more emphasis on the 
immigration aspect with regard to terrorism; reorganization of the 
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms so that it can work better in 
terms of terrorism as opposed to law enforcement activities.
  Personnel flexibility has been one we have talked about for a very 
long time. Certainly, the President ought to have as much authority for 
flexibility as others have had and as he has in other departments.
  We also need to have, obviously, some protection for the union 
representatives, and it is there; research and development, aiming it 
more toward terrorism, that is one of the amendments; critical 
infrastructure protection, of course, so that we get into helping with 
the private infrastructure such as dams, such as oil refineries, these 
kinds of things--important stuff to do--the Coast Guard, strengthening 
their position with respect to terrorism; the one on corporate 
inversion where there was concern about being offshore. The fact is it 
is only there to be used as long as it has specific economic security 
reasons to be used. I think that is reasonable. Airport security--all 
these things are there.
  Again, I thought during the last month or so it became pretty clear 
that this session of the Congress has been exceptionally slow in moving 
forward. It has not accomplished many of the things we should have 
accomplished. I had hoped that with that in our background, we would be 
ready to move forward to accomplish this one that is so obvious in 
need. I hope we can do that.
  I am glad we do have Members on both sides who recognize the 
importance of doing this. We have carefully crafted language that will 
be there. It is time for us to move forward. Whether there is anything 
else that we really need to do in this lame duck session, I wouldn't 
argue that. We obviously have to have a CR. Apparently there is 
movement toward doing something with terrorism liability. But this is 
the one. This is what we need to do, and we need to move forward.
  I do appreciate the work that has been done. Particularly Senator 
Thompson and Senator Gramm have worked tirelessly in putting something 
together that will ensure homeland security and a department that will 
be capable of moving forward to do the things that everybody 
understands we need to do. Frankly, there are no more excuses to delay 
this bill. I certainly urge my colleagues to oppose the amendment and 
pass the compromise bill so the President can sign this into law.

  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from West Virginia.
  Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, is the Senate presently in a period for the 
transaction of morning business?
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senate is in morning business until 1 
  Mr. BYRD. I thank the Chair.