Homeland Security may become battleground

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 28, 2002

The stage is set for a battle over Homeland Security.

With the U.S. House’s passage of a Homeland Security bill on Friday, it is likely that the Senate will prove a battleground for the measure. Democratic senators have drafted a version of the Homeland Security bill that restricts the president’s powers, particularly when it comes to hiring and firing.

While they all may share a "common goal," as Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California said, debating the six different ways of getting to that goal is likely to be even more costly to the country.

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The measure already promises to be an expensive one. The Homeland Security bill is the biggest government reorganization since the 1940s. It would merge 22 different government entities into one 170,000-worker department with a $38 billion budget. The goal is to provide a more cohesive and better organized structure for protecting America.

The sticking point is likely to be the broad personnel powers the president seeks, including the ability to waive labor union protections in matters of national security.

With a subject this sensitive and expansive, and with the nature of politics, debate and disagreement over how to restructure our government is inevitable. But it needs to be productive debate, and one that yields the best legislation possible.

If we as a country are committed to Homeland Security, our leaders must be committed to setting aside politics in an effort to put that measure in place.


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