What: All Issues : Government Checks on Corporate Power : Ocean Shipping Industry : Amendment to S. 4 (enacting recommendations of the 9/11 Commission) to strengthen the security of cargo containers/Motion to table (2007 senate Roll Call 56)
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Amendment to S. 4 (enacting recommendations of the 9/11 Commission) to strengthen the security of cargo containers/Motion to table
senate Roll Call 56     Mar 01, 2007
Progressive Position:
Nay
Progressive Result:
Loss
Qualifies as polarizing?
Yes
Is this vote crucial?
Yes

Continuing an effort that began last year and was once again unsuccessful, Senate Democrats failed to muster enough votes to require that all U.S.-bound cargo be scanned at foreign ports before departure. The chamber voted to table a measure by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) that would have required 100 percent screening of ships bound for the United States. The language would have amended a bill implementing the unfulfilled recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. The measure was strongly opposed by the shipping and other trade industries. Industry groups maintained that complete screening of U.S.-bound cargo was neither practicable nor feasible. "A 100 percent scanning requirement could strangle commerce and have a significantly damaging impact on American manufacturers and cost jobs," the National Association of Manufacturers wrote in an open letter to senators. Democrats had found the same hostility toward the proposal from the shipping industry last year, and their effort was similarly unsuccessful. Then as now, Republicans sided with industry in maintaining that the technology had not sufficiently advanced to allow for the scanning of all cargo abroad. Democrats questioned whether the Homeland Security Department would act expeditiously enough without a timetable mandating 100 percent screening. Schumer and Menendez's amendment would have required that all U.S.-bound cargo at the world's largest ports be scanned within three years, with full compliance within five. Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and ranking member Susan Collins (R-Maine) led the opposition to the amendment, voicing the industry's concerns about inadequate technology. Democrats were unable to muster enough votes within their own ranks to overcome the opposition from the shipping industry and Senate Republicans. Twelve Democrats voted with all but one Republican (Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter), in voting against the amendment. The vote to table passed by a vote of 58 to 38. The Senate's bill implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission was thus sent to a House-Senate conference committee without a provision requiring 100 percent screening of U.S.-bound cargo. The language in the tabled amendment was included in the House-passed legislation, setting up a potentially tough issue for the two chambers to iron out when drafting a compromise bill.

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