Political squabbles stall homeland security measures

| Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Various bills related to homeland security are tied up due to political differences that have little to do with terrorism, according to press reports.

Homeland security legislation is on hold over workers rights issues. And neither the House nor Senate can agree if a terrorism insurance bill should include a cap on lawsuits to protect the insurance industry.

Legislation to improve port security has stalled over how to pay for new security measures, and lawmakers are still working out the details on plans to arm airline pilots.

Meanwhile, Congress has yet to reach agreement on a defense spending bill, for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1, that significantly boosts military spending.

The standoff has led to some testy exchanges.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) said last week the Senate bill, by limiting the president's power over agency workers, "could have the tangible result of putting lives at risk and making cities and towns more vulnerable to attack."

House Democratic leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri said GOP leaders are simply refusing to compromise. "They are absolutists, they are ideological, they are my-way-or-the-highway every day on every issue. It's mindless."

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