Homeland security stalls in Senate

| 9/12/2002

The bill creating a Homeland Security Department is currently bogged down in the Senate amid a dispute over worker rights, AP reports.

The issue: Democrats object to President Bush's demands to hire, fire, promote and demote workers in the new agency and to exempt them from union coverage for reasons of national security.

Bush said Sept. 7 during his weekly radio address he may veto the bill: "I will not accept a homeland security bill that ties the hands of this administration or future administrations in defending our nation against terrorist attacks."

A proposed compromise centers on the union issues, which would affect about 43,000 of the department's prospective 170,000 employees. Under the proposal, Bush still would be able to exempt workers from union agreements for national security reasons, but they would have greater rights to a quick appeal.

A final agreement must be worked out with the GOP-led House, which in July passed a version much closer to Bush's plan.