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Capital Hill Watch Alert

Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (S. 4)

The US Senate began debate on Tuesday, February 27, 2007, on the Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (S. 4)   [To view the Full Text of the legislation visit: Full Text of Legislation]. 

In February, a similar anti-terrorism bill passed the House of Representatives that included a provision that would require the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to collectively bargain with government unions representing 45,000 airport security screeners.  On Tuesday, March 6, 2007, the Senate defeated an amendment by Republican Senator of South Carolina Jim DeMint to remove this provision from the  Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (S. 4) by a 51-46 vote. 

The ability of the TSA to flexibly respond to terrorist threats and other emergencies is significantly reduced by collectively negotiating every modification in work procedures or duty assignments. This was not a recommendation of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (9/11 Commission). 

To respond to potential threats using the latest information available the TSA must have maximum flexibility. At a moment's notice, it must have the ability to rush screeners to high-risk locations and modify current screening procedures. For example, TSA overhauled its procedures in less than 12 hours to prevent terrorists from smuggling liquid explosives onto any United States (U.S.) flights following the attempted United Kingdom (U.K.) airline bombings in the summer of 2006. Prior to implementing new procedures or personnel assignments, the TSA cannot spend weeks or months collectively negotiating during a crisis. 

Airport screeners do not need collective bargaining. They can already join a union and seven hundred security screeners have chosen to become dues-paying members of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) which represents its members in grievance procedures and job safety complaints.  To create a career track for screeners without resorting to seniority-based promotions, the TSA has created a Career Progression Initiative. And, to address workplace issues and design its merit pay system with consultation and feedback from 4,000 employees, the TSA has created the employee advisory councils. 

Furthermore, many of the shortfalls are duplicated in the Senate version of the Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 that passed the House of Representatives.  For example, the tendency of the Congress to over-proliferate Homeland Security grants, adding a new grant for interoperable communications and perpetuating inefficient grant programs such as the Assistance to Firefighter Grants are duplicated in the Senate measure.  As a result, states and localities view security grants as pork-barrel handouts and recurring entitlements. 

The Senate version of the Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 is too similar to the version passed by the House of Representatives.  And the collective bargain provision does nothing for the national security of this nation.  It rewards organized labor for their support of the Democrats and should be rejected.  By the end of the week, the Senate expects to complete work on the measure.

What Can You Do?  

Urge your senators to NOT SUPPORT   the Improving America's Security by Implementing Unfinished Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (S. 4)

Contact Information:    

Capitol Hill Switchboard Numbers: 202-225-3121 or 202-224-3121 (Those numbers will direct you to the Capitol Hill operator. Ask for your senator's office.)    

To go to your senators' websites, find their E-mail or to find out who your senators are... http://www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm    

Addressing Correspondence:      

The Honorable (full name)
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510  

Dear Senator (last name):  

 

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