IMPROVING AMERICA'S SECURITY ACT OF 2007 -- (Senate - March 06, 2007)
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AMENDMENT NO. 314
Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the following Senators be added as cosponsors of the DeMint amendment: Senators VITTER, CRAIG, ROBERTS, BUNNING, ENZI, HATCH, and GRAHAM.
The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Is there objection?
Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, I want to speak about the DeMint amendment and make sure all of my colleagues are clear on what is about to happen.
The majority leader has said at 12 o'clock today he will make a motion to table or to kill the DeMint amendment to the 9/11 bill. It would be a large mistake for this body to kill this amendment, because it enables our airport security personnel to keep Americans safer.
One of the biggest threats we have now as a nation is we are beginning to forget 9/11 and what happened and what could happen. We are forgetting we are under a constant threat, that we live under alerts every day. It is not a matter of saying one day is an emergency and one day is not. It is not a matter of saying one passenger is an imminent threat but the other one might not be.
Our transportation security agency is charged with making sure we screen every passenger, every bag, and that we have an alert system based on intelligence and other information that allows them to move toward possible threats.
Unfortunately, we have heard Members of this Senate saying the war on terror is not an emergency, that al-Qaida is not a new imminent threat, when we know that every day al-Qaida may have a new plan to attack Americans at different points.
When the Homeland Security agency was formed, we had a debate about whether the transportation security agencies, the officers working for them, the screeners, should have collective bargaining. It was agreed at the time, because of the need for flexibility and constant change, that screeners would have the freedom to join a union, and a number of workers' rights and protections were put into place, but that they would not have collective bargaining arrangements as some of our other agencies do.
I point out we have heard some in this Chamber use border security as an example of collective bargaining working. What I hold in my hands is only one example of a collective bargaining agreement for our Customs Service.
We cannot make a case that our border security has worked well. We have over 12 million illegals in this country that testify it is not. Our customs system is becoming well known as being one of the slowest in the world. Collective bargaining will not work for our airports. I am afraid, again, we are beginning to forget we are in an emergency situation. The 9/11 Commission didn't recommend we change current airport security.
My amendment is designed to keep current law the same. The majority leader will ask this Chamber to kill that bill, which would mean we would lose the 9/11 security bill we have all worked on.
I ask unanimous consent that several items be printed in the Record. First is a letter from the Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security, Kip Hawley, who tells us if collective bargaining is implemented with the transportation security agency, it will significantly reduce their ability to keep our country safe. Next is a letter with over 36 Senators signing it, saying they will sustain the President's veto of the 9/11 bill if it hampers our security by injecting collective bargaining into the process. Next is a letter from the House of Representatives, with 155 signatures, saying they will sustain the veto.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD
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Mr. DeMINT. Mr. President, a vote to kill the DeMint amendment is a vote to kill the 9/11 bill we have all worked on. Let there be no question about it, the vote should be no. There is no reason to change the operation of the transportation security agency and to inject third party negotiations, particularly when it involves sensitive information.
So let us be clear that the motion to table my amendment is a motion to make our airports less secure. I urge my colleagues to vote no on the motion to table.
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