U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (WA-09) yesterday voted in favor of H.R. 1, legislation to implement many of the remaining 9/11 Commission recommendations. Smith was pleased that House Democrats acted so quickly during their new majority in Congress to make Americans safer. The bill passed by a vote of 299 to 128.
“Improving explosive detection capabilities and ensuring our emergency responders can effectively communicate with each other in an emergency are just two ways this bill will make the American people safer,” Smith said. “This bill will go a long way toward protecting us from -- and better managing the consequences of -- a terrorist attack.”
Smith added, “The overall bill is a positive measure that will increase security, but I am concerned about the 100 percent air cargo and seaborne container screening requirement. I look forward to working out the difficulties with this issue when the bill is sent to conference."
Earlier this week, 9/11 Commission Vice Chair Lee Hamilton stated, "The bottom line is that if this bill, H.R. 1, is enacted, funded and implemented, then the American people will be safer. ... The bill carries out the recommendations that [the Commission] has made."
The bill included several steps intended to improve homeland security, including:
- Distributing state homeland security funding based on risk;
- Creating a stand-alone grant program to provide first responders with the type of equipment that allows them to communicate with each other during emergencies;
- Phasing in a requirement of 100 percent inspection of the cargo carried on passenger aircraft over the next three years;
- Phasing in a requirement of 100 percent scanning of U.S.-bound shipping containers over the next five years;
- Quickly accelerating the installation of explosive detection systems for checked baggage at the nation’s airports; and
- Improving explosive detection systems at passenger checkpoints at the nation’s airports.
The bill also includes provisions to better prevent terrorists from acquiring WMD, such as:
- Strengthening the Cooperative Threat Reduction (“Nunn-Lugar”) program that focuses on securing loose nuclear materials in the former Soviet Union;
- Providing increased tools for the Proliferation Security Initiative, through which the U.S. and participating countries interdict WMD; and
- Establishing a U.S. Coordinator for the Prevention of WMD Proliferation and Terrorism at the White House, who would serve as a presidential advisor on proliferation.
Finally, the bill also includes provisions to reduce the appeal of extremism, including:
- Providing for the establishment of a Middle East Foundation, to promote economic opportunities, education reform, human rights and democratic processes in the countries of the Middle East; and
- Promoting quality educational opportunities for youth in Arab and other predominantly Muslim countries, including expanding U.S. scholarship and exchange programs.