Tags: Lame-Duck | Congress | Agrees | Tackle | Homeland | Bill

Lame-Duck Congress Agrees to Tackle Homeland Bill

Sunday, 10 November 2002 12:00 AM

The Department of Homeland Security on the drawing boards would be the second-largest Cabinet department, after Defense, boasting 170,000 employees pulled from about 100 agencies.

For months the bill has been unable to move out of committee owing to Democrats in the Senate who are unwilling to give President Bush flexibility in hiring, firing and transferring employees.

"I'm not an advocate of lame-duck sessions, whether I'm in the minority or the majority," Lott said during remarks after the Presidential summons. "He feels very strongly about this."

Called by the New York Times the "first legislative muscle-flexing” by the White House after the Republican victories in the midterm elections, the agreement by the two legislative leaders to give it the college try comes in the face of the apparent impasse on labor rules.

President Bush wants the proposed secretary of homeland security to be able to manage personnel in the new department without regard to the in-place rules of federal labor management relations.

One compromise that had been making the rounds before the bill was tabled would allow the administration to exclude department employees from union representation on national security grounds, but it would give such excluded employees a route to appeal, and furthermore makes it incumbent on the government to disclose reasons for denying any worker his or her collective bargaining rights.

The proposed new department would take over duties now performed by the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Transportation Security Administration, the Secret Service, as well as other executive offices.

Congress will get underway in its lame-duck session on Tuesday - with Democrats still at the helm because the senators-elect will not officially take office until January.

Senator Tom Daschle, the lame-duck Democratic leader, has so far been intractable with regard to the worker protection issue.

According to a report in the Times, an administration official said, "If you don't get it done now, you start totally over again. You will re-litigate issues, and it will take months, no matter which way you cut it."

President Bush has now gone on the record several times saying that his top legislative priority is creating the Department of Homeland Security – without delay.

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The Department of Homeland Security on the drawing boards would be the second-largest Cabinet department, after Defense, boasting 170,000 employees pulled from about 100 agencies. For months the bill has been unable to move out of committee owing to Democrats in the...
Lame-Duck,Congress,Agrees,Tackle,Homeland,Bill
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2002-00-10
Sunday, 10 November 2002 12:00 AM
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