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August 5, 2002
Volume 80, Number 31
CENEAR 80 31 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347


HOMELAND SECURITY

HOUSE CREATES NEW DEPARTMENT
Senate is set to vote on a leaner version of the bill in September

LOIS EMBER

Voting largely along party lines, the Republican-dominated House has approved creation of a Department of Homeland Security that parallels the proposal President George W. Bush sent to Congress on June 6. The bill—which recognizes the importance of science and technology in combating terrorism—solidifies the largest reorganization of the federal government in more than 50 years by consolidating under one roof the functions of 22 existing agencies.

The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee has sent to the full chamber its version of a homeland security department that is much leaner than the House-passed bill. A vote on the Senate bill is expected in September. Then the House and Senate bills will have to be reconciled by a conference committee, something that may not occur before the Sept. 11 anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

The House bill would transfer to the new department some 170,000 employees from, among others, the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the Secret Service, the border inspection functions of the Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, and the enforcement functions of the Immigration & Naturalization Service. The House bill retains Bush’s proposal for an information analysis division that would receive intelligence reports from the CIA and the FBI, whereas the Senate bill has the intelligence division receiving raw data from those agencies.

Largely at the instigation of Science Committee Chairman Sherwood L. Boehlert (R-N.Y.), the House bill contains provisions that create the post of undersecretary for science and technology within the new department. This, Boehlert says, ensures that “one senior official in the new department will be responsible ... for the science and technology activities of the entire department.”



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