Thompson Hails Passage of Homeland Security Amendment

Washington, DC – Today Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Fred Thompson (R-TN) hailed the passage of an amendment creating the new Department of Homeland Security, which the Senate adopted by a vote of 73 to 26. Final passage of the legislation, H.R. 5005, is expected later today.

The Thompson substitute amendment is identical to H.R. 5710, which was passed by the House of Representatives on November 13. With Senate passage of this bipartisan agreement, the legislation will be sent to President Bush to be signed into law.

“Today we have taken a giant step toward reorganizing our homeland security establishment to protect American citizens from the threat of terrorism. The threats our nation faces are still very real, and will likely exist for decades to come. But as we move forward, we must be realistic. It?s going to be a long and complex road to create a fully effective agency to enhance homeland security, but this is a mission that is vital to the security of this nation, and the most important responsibility of this government,” said Thompson, who led the debate on the bill for Senate Republicans.

The homeland security legislation allows for certain flexibilities in the new Department?s human resources management system, while requiring the Secretary to notify Congress of changes and providing federal employees a method of appeal. The bill also gives the Secretary certain reorganization flexibilities for the Department, to implement changes in a timely and efficient manner.

The Thompson amendment also includes much needed reforms for the Immigration and Naturalization Service to promote stronger border security and immigration services. To address U.S. vulnerability to cyber attacks, the legislation includes language requiring federal agencies to utilize information security best practices to ensure the integrity, confidentiality, and availability of federal information systems.

“At a time when uncertainty threatens confidence in our nation’s preparedness, the Federal government must make information security a priority. We are fighting a new war in a new age on unconventional fronts. We can not afford to overlook our nation?s technology infrastructure as we secure our homeland,” said Thompson.