House approves GOP bill on 9/11 reorganization forcing confrontation with Senate - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

House approves GOP bill on 9/11 reorganization forcing confrontation with Senate

Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House approved GOP-crafted legislation Friday to implement the Sept. 11 commission's recommendations and give law enforcement new powers to fight terrorism and curb illegal immigration.

The action puts the representatives on a collision course with the Senate in the waning hours of the congressional session.

The House voted 282-134 to approve GOP leaders' bill to create a new national intelligence director and a national counterterrorism center. The House measure also includes the law-enforcement powers that the Senate rejected.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said he told 9/11 families as late as Thursday that Congress would agree to something for the White House to sign, despite major differences between the House and Senate bills.

``Yes, folks, at the end of the day we will enact a law that will make our country safer,'' Hastert said.

House and Senate leaders now must negotiate a compromise version to present to Congress in a special post-session meeting if they hope to have a package to present to President Bush before Election Day.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said Friday that Congress probably would come back the third week in October to send the bill to Bush once the negotiations are finished.

House GOP leaders plan to fight for their provisions. They say their bill does more than the Senate's to deal with the Sept. 11 commission's complaints that the country's intelligence and national security structure needs to be improved to block future attacks.

In addition to creating a national intelligence director and a national counterterrorism center, the House bill would expand powers to fight terrorism, illegal immigration and identity theft and tighten border security.

``This legislation will make this country safer,'' Hastert said. ``It will make our families safer. it will ensure the safety of our children and our parents.''

Those provisions are not in the Senate bill, which the opponents of the GOP bill presented to the House but failed to get approved. The Senate bill more faithfully follows what the commission wanted and does not divide lawmakers down partisan lines the way the legislation crafted by House Republicans does, Democrats, and some Republicans, said.

``Ultimately the American people are going to win, but right now you don't get a sense of that,'' said Republican Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut.

These lawmakers said the law enforcement and immigration proposals were included to force Democrats into a difficult election-year vote, and the GOP bill does not fully implement the 9/11 commission's recommendations.

They also complained that the House concept gives the intelligence director 's too little authority to control all nonmilitary intelligence agencies, unlike the version passed by the Senate.

``This bill is fundamentally flawed,'' said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who along with Shays pushed for the Senate bill to be approved by the House.

While the White House endorsed the House GOP bill, as it did the Senate version, the Bush administration also said both provisions still need work.

``The administration looks forward to working with the House and Senate in conference as they resolve their differences on intelligence reform legislation so that it can be enacted as soon as possible,'' the administration said in a statement Thursday.
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