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Senate Democrats Vote to Weaken Homeland Security

Location: Washington, DC

Senate Democrats Vote to Weaken Homeland Security

Today, Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) made the following statement after Senate Democrats voted unanimously to weaken the safety of the traveling public by forcing the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) to collectively bargain with labor unions. Senator DeMint's amendment to remove the provision in S. 4, the 9/11 Commission Recommendations bill, was defeated by a vote of 51-46.

"It's outrageous that some politicians want to protect union bosses more than they want to protect Americans from terrorist attacks," said Senator DeMint. "This provision was not recommended by the 9/11 Commission, it was recommended by labor unions."

Estimates indicate unionizing TSA's 48,000 employees could give labor unions $17 million annually in new membership dues. According to a report in the Washington Examiner newspaper on March 5, 2007: "Unions have been generous with Democrats. Since 1990, organized labor has given over $500 million in campaign contributions to Democrats, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2006 election cycle alone, labor gave more than $50 million to Democrats. In the past 16 years, 92 percent of labor's political contributions have gone to Democrats. Eight percent has gone to Republicans."

"Collective bargaining will tie TSA's hands with needless red-tape and create a homeland security disaster. This earmark for the labor unions will force us to negotiate with unions on daily security decisions before we can act to save American lives," said Senator DeMint.

The collective bargaining provision would reverse the flexibility given to TSA to perform its critical aviation security mission. Collective bargaining was specifically rejected by Congress following the 9-11 attacks, because Congress understood that airport security needs to be more responsive and adaptive to terrorist threats.

"We cannot let our defenses down and return to a pre-9/11 mindset. The threat of terrorism is very real and our enemies are constantly changing tactics to attack America's aviation system. TSA must be allowed to work quickly and flexibly to defeat the terrorist threat."

President Bush has threatened to veto the overall bill if it contains the collective bargaining provision, and letters have been signed by 36 senators and 146 members of the House of Representatives pledging to sustain the veto.

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