9-11 Commission recommendations bill off to conference

Democratic House lawmakers expressed confidence that the 9-11 Commission recommendations bill will move through the upcoming conference committee quickly and improve U.S. security.

During a press briefing, Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), Homeland Security Committee chairman and sponsor of the bill, said the legislation will meet many of the “unmet issues around Sept. 11.”

The House and Senate named conferees for the committee July 17, and Thompson said the first meeting should be this week. He added that under House rules, they have 20 days to come to agreement.

Thompson said the goal is to complete the bill before the August recess.

“The legislation is an effort to target money to those with the greatest risk,” he said. “For grants, we will offer a different formula than in the past.”

Thompson said the challenges in getting the bill passed by both houses of Congress include first-responder interoperability, the deadline for large and small ports to implement cargo screening technology, and bargaining rights for Transportation Security Administration baggage screeners.

Despite these potential sticking points, Thompson and others believe the bill is on the right track to becoming law.

“The bill we will be implementing will get several elements of security on the ground,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas). “If the Congress and executive branch don’t go forward together on this bill, we will put more Americans at risk.”

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