Homeland bill veto threatened

Statement of Administration Policy

The White House on Sept. 3 threatened to veto the Senate's homeland security bill unless certain restrictions are taken out and the administration's requested management flexibilities are added back in.

This is the latest action in the increasingly heated debate between the Bush administration and the Senate over the creation of the proposed Homeland Security Department and other functions designed to combat terrorism.

The statement of administration policy released by the Office of Management and Budget lists three steps that the Senate must take before President Bush will sign the bill. The White House is calling for the Senate to:

n Remove new restrictions on the president's existing national security authorities, particularly the section restricting the president's ability to exempt agencies involved in national security matters from the Federal Labor Relations Management Act.

n Eliminate the call for a new statutory homeland security office within the Executive Office of the President to be headed by a Senate-confirmed director.

n Provide the proposed Homeland Security Department's secretary with increased flexibility to reorganize people and functions, and transfer funding between organizations.

Last week Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, sent a letter to his colleagues outlining his objections to these same portions of the administration's plans and requests.

And at a meeting of the President's Homeland Security Advisory Council last week, experts from government and the private sector said the homeland security effort would most likely not be successful unless the management flexibilities called for by the Bush administration are in place.

Those advisers also suggested several additional steps that could be taken to make the changes in the federal system fully effective, including requiring senior executives and managers slated to join the proposed department to apply for the new positions they would hold.

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