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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4167, National Uniformity for Food Act of 2005

Location: Washington, DC

PROVIDING FOR CONSIDERATION OF H.R. 4167, NATIONAL UNIFORMITY FOR FOOD ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - March 02, 2006)

Ms. PELOSI. Mr. Speaker, as House Democratic leader, I am pleased to rise in opposition to this bill in that capacity, and sorry because of the nature of the rule that we have before us.

But before I get to that point, I want to rise as a mother and grandmother to say something about the underlying bill that this rule is addressing. If there is one thing that America's families look to government for, it is clean air for their children to breathe, clean water for them to drink, and food safety. When I say one thing, I mean what their children intake is very important to their health and well-being.

Today on the floor, we have legislation which seriously jeopardizes the food safety for America's children. It is a bill that I urge all to vote against. And the rule that brings that bill to the floor is, in my view, one that allows us to speak to safety in another way as well.

Yesterday marked the third anniversary of the Homeland Security Department. Yet today, 3 years later, our country is not as safe as it should be. We have a port security system that is full of holes.

The ports are our first line of defense in protecting our country. Yet the backroom port deal that the Bush administration negotiated shines a bright light on the failure of the President and this Republican Congress to secure our ports.

The intelligence community tells us, and we know, that the biggest threat to our security are the fissile materials that are still out there, the nuclear materials in the post-Soviet Union world. They were formerly weapons of the Soviet Union, and now they are out there available, available to terrorists. And the single biggest threat are those weapons in a container coming into our country.

I really cannot explain to anyone why this administration has refused to do what is necessary to protect our ports from that threat.

And it is not only our ports. When these containers come from overseas to our country, they are unloaded onto a truck, onto a train, and drive right through your city, your town, perhaps past your home. So the danger goes well beyond our ports.

Here at home 6 percent of the containers entering our ports are screened. Yet, at two of the busiest terminals in the world, in Hong Kong, 100 percent of the terminals are screened. If Hong Kong terminals can do it, why can't we?

That is why Democrats are proposing that 100 percent of the cargo that comes into our ports is screened in their port of origin long before they reach our shores and into our waterways.

Today, as we debate and vote on another issue of security, food safety, Democrats demand that attention be given to our ports. We will call for a vote on a bipartisan bill that is identical to the King bill, the King-Thompson bill, introduced by a Republican and a Democrat on the Homeland Security Committee, Mr. King, the chairman of the committee, and Mr. Thompson, the ranking member. It will require a 45-day investigation of the Dubai deal. In addition, we require that both Houses of Congress have an up-or-down vote on whether or not to approve this agreement.

Congress must assert itself. Congress must take responsibility. We take an oath of office to protect the American people, and we take that oath seriously.

Today is the day that the backroom port deal will be finalized. This is our best chance to require a congressional vote on whether or not that backroom deal should go through.

I urge my colleagues to assert Congress' responsibility to protect the American people, to assert Congress' role in checks and balances in our Constitution.

I urge our colleagues to vote against the previous question.

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