- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The next time Democrats accuse Republicans of playing politics with national security, think of Sen. Harry Reid’s “real security” amendment to the port-security bill. Mr. Reid’s 11th-hour Senate floor bid to shove 507 new pages into this laborious bill yesterday could only have been designed to kill the whole process.

There’s no other explanation for Senate minority leader’s proposed money for beet farmers, cow tuberculosis, disavowals of the Terrorist Surveillance Program and labeling of U.S.-Iraq policy as “unsustainable” in what is otherwise a bipartisan bill — legislation that has been debated thoroughly after taking months to hammer out. Thankfully, Mr. Reid’s amendment was voted down 57-41. Just who is “unserious” about national security these days?

Being no rube, Mr. Reid covered himself with several useful ideas, like first-responder money and public-diplomacy improvements, which no one can reasonably oppose. But there were also laughers. There was $64 million for “health professions diversity programs”; $24 million for sugar beet producers; and $2 million for “bovine tuberculosis herd indemnification.” Right, Mr. Reid: These are vital matters of the utmost port-security importance.

Then there were new indicators of what a Democrat-led war on terror might look like: the “Middle East Foundation,” a private, nonprofit organization funded by the U.S. government for various programs in the region; there was “Title XXII — Preventing the Growth of Radical Islamic Fundamentalism, Subtitle A — Quality Educational Opportunities.” That’s right: Schools will head off terrorism.

As Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican, put it on the floor yesterday: “The only way this amendment would make the nation safer is if we made copies of all the reports it requires and carpet bombed Osama bin Laden. I am certain he would suffocate.”

Voters can only stomach so much of this nonsense. This bipartisan port-security bill took many months to debate and reach consensus on. Here is Mr. Reid, the security-minded, trying to kill it seven weeks before the midterm elections. If he were successful, of course, Democrats would then have been able to cite the Republican Party’s lack of port-security progress.

The port-security measure had been vetted during serious deliberations on both sides of the isle. Mr. Reid’s legislative action should be recognized as the sham it really and truly is.

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