- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2007

It’s no secret why House Democrats kicked off their 100-hour campaign Tuesday with legislation on homeland security and not, say, stem-cell research. Democrats know they have a problem when it comes to their public image on national defense. But it took a certain amount of chutzpah for Democrats to claim that Tuesday’s vote was to make up for Republican failure to implement the recommendations from the September 11 commission.

Consider the record. Under a Republican-controlled House, a majority of Democrats voted against the following bills, all of which were drafted with commission recommendations in mind:

m The commission stated: “The House and Senate homeland security committees should have exclusive jurisdiction over all counterterrorism functions of the Department of Homeland Security.” Yet every House Democrat in the 109th Congress voted against making the Committee on Homeland Security permanent.

m The commission stated: “The REAL ID Act has established standards for state-issued IDs acceptable for federal purposes, though states’ compliance needs to be closely monitored.” But 152 House Democrats in the 109th Congress voted against the REAL ID Act.

m The commission stated: The United States should develop “a common coalition approach toward detention and humane treatment of capture terrorists… for those cases in which the usual laws of war did not apply.” But 162 House Democrats in the 109th Congress voted against the Military Commissions Act, which establishes guidelines for the detention and trial of terrorist suspects.

What Democrats did manage to approve Tuesday was a requirement that 100 percent of U.S.-bound cargo undergo radiation scanning at overseas ports in five years. As desirable as the idea might sound, the reality is unworkable. There are an estimated 700 ports in the world shipping 11 million containers of cargo to the United States every year. Current radiation scanning technology is such that each container will have to be manually scanned — and that is assuming each of the 700 ports has functioning radiation scanners and workers trained to operate them.

Republicans looking into the idea in the last Congress concluded as much, but not before creating a $60 million pilot program to scan 7 percent of U.S.-bound cargo from six foreign ports. The Department of Homeland Security plans on taking a look at the results of that program by the end of the year.

But instead of waiting for those results, Democrats chose to get another easy sound bite.

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