Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid released the following statement today after the U.S. Senate passed the 9/11 Commission recommendations conference report, 85-8:
“By sending the President a bill to finally fully implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations, Senate Democrats are continuing to make America safer after years of Congressional and Administration inaction. We are funding our most vulnerable cities and states, enhancing communication capabilities for first responders, strengthening transit security, and improving oversight of our intelligence and homeland security systems.
“This bill is long overdue. With our intelligence experts saying Al Qaeda is at its strongest since 9/11, there is no time to waste. We look forward to President Bush enacting this bill as soon as it reaches his desk.”
Highlights of the Bipartisan 9/11 Commission Bill Include:
- Requirement Homeland Security grants be allocated based on risk. The bill requires the Homeland Security secretary to evaluate factors such as critical infrastructure and prioritize grants to the most risky areas. It would lower guaranteed per-state allotments of homeland security grants to 0.375 percent of the total funds available dropping to 0.35 percent by 2012, with the rest of the funds distributed by risk-based criteria.
- Funding for Better Interoperability. The bill establishes a grant program to improve communications between first-responders. The grants would support the planning, training and design of emergency communications. The bill also encourages cooperation and information-sharing between federal government, state and local agencies by supporting participation in local security centers.
- 100 Percent Cargo Screening. The bill requires the implementation of a system to scan all cargo loaded onto passenger jets within three years of the bill’s enactment. The bill also requires within five years the implementation of a system to scan all cargo bound for the United States from foreign ports.
- Improves Airport Security. Authorizes funding increases for critical aviation security programs, including $250 million annually for checkpoint screening, $450 million annually for baggage screening, and $50 million annually for the next four years for aviation security R&D.
- Enhances the existing Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. The bill calls for enhanced government adherence to civil liberties guidelines.