Homeland debate may be on slow track in September

Even though congressional leaders held out hope last month that they could quickly push legislation to create a Homeland Security Department through the Senate in a matter of days, there are signs that action could be slow-going when Congress returns.

Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., told reporters before the August recess that the Senate should have stayed in town if necessary to complete the bill.

Now, some GOP leadership aides warn that because the underlying legislation is complex-affecting tens of thousands of federal employees and numerous agencies-it could take considerable floor time, while at least one senior Democrat is working to slow passage.

When the Senate returns to session in early September, it will debate a motion to proceed to the homeland security bill. Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., will control the debate time for opponents of the motion. Byrd has warned against rushing ahead without carefully considering the ramifications of creating a new department, and helped persuade Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., not to try to tackle the bill before the break.

Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., and ranking member Fred Thompson, R-Tenn., will control the debate time for proponents. If the motion to proceed passes, as is expected, the Senate will take up the bill Wednesday, Sept. 4.

A number of amendments to modify the department's jurisdiction could be offered, while heated fights over labor provisions that have drawn a presidential veto threat are anticipated.

"The homeland security bill should have passed the Senate before August," said a Lott spokesman.

"We hope the Senate Democratic leadership will help us pass a bipartisan homeland security bill immediately, and not let it get bogged down in legislative quicksand." He continued, "Sen. Lott believes the debate should not revolve around partisan turf fights, but will allow the president the flexibility to create a Homeland Security Department that will help Americans feel safe."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.