Beginning late last week and continuing this week, the Senate has finally moved port security legislation to the floor of the Senate, in the form of a substitute amendment (S.Amdt.4919) to the House’s version of the bill, H.R. 4954, which passed the House with near-unanimity in May. The floor action reflects a compromise among the three committees with jurisdiction – Senate Homeland Security, Senate Commerce, and Senate Finance – after a long summer of wrangling and negotiations among the three committees, a fight that seemed often more about power than the content of the bill.
This page on THOMAS provides an ongoing record of the amendments under consideration on the floor, the most contentious of which, an amendment on 100% cargo screening, will be voted on Wednesday.
I’ve been a strong supporter of this legislation in its previous guises, since the introduction of the GreenLane bill last December, and I’m looking forward to seeing the bill pass the Senate (hopefully this week), and then quickly reconciled with the House bill and signed by the President shortly thereafter. That would be a rare victory for bipartisanship in today’s ugly political climate, and a very positive step in the maturation of this nation’s port and cargo security activities.
Update (9/13): I’ve edited the post to correct the content of amendments to the bill.