- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2001

Efforts to move aviation-security legislation stalled in the Senate yesterday in a dispute over whether other pressing issues, such as aid to displaced airline workers, should also be included in the package.
Senate Republican leader Trent Lott of Mississippi blocked the bill from being brought to the floor, saying he first wanted an agreement that provisions not related to the safety of airlines and airports would not be attached to the bill.
"This very important issue will begin to sink of its own weight" if other matters such as energy security and federal help for the nation's railways is coupled with the base bill, Mr. Lott said.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, said he was disappointed by the delay, calling the aviation security issue an "emergency that dictates we come to the floor this afternoon."
The two leaders agreed to keep working on a consensus that would allow debate on the legislation, which enjoys wide support in the Senate.
The drive to get air security legislation to President Bush came as the president on Tuesday announced that Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, within sight of the White House and the Capitol, would reopen today under heavy security and with a limited number of flights.
The Senate bill would ensure that federal personnel screen and check all baggage and individuals boarding a plane at major U.S. airports. Smaller airports could hire local law-enforcement officers for those jobs.
It also would require the Federal Aviation Administration to take actions to prevent entry into airliner cockpits, require new anti-hijacking training for flight deck and cabin crews, and authorize the Transportation Department to deploy federal marshals on all flights.
"People deserve to know they are going to fly with the highest standard of security," said Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, who joined a bipartisan group in backing the legislation. Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, the top Republican on the Senate Commerce Committee, said the measure also would include a passenger fee in the $1.50 to $2.50 range to help pay for the added security.
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, meanwhile, received recommendations from two task forces on airline and airport security.
Among the recommendations by the airline security group were installing stronger cockpit doors within 30 days and new security training for pilots, flights attendants and other crew members within six months. A copy of the report was obtained by the Associated Press.
It also recommended that the FAA, the airline industry and pilot unions come up with procedures that could help thwart a hijacking, such as depressurizing the cabin or making a rapid descent.
United Airlines said it would immediately begin installing steel bars on its planes' cockpit doors, and other airlines were considering new security measures too.
The task force on airport security was proposing a new federal agency to oversee the job.
The House was also near agreement on an aviation-security bill, but unlike the Senate, it was at an impasse over the issue of airport screeners.

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