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9/11 Bill Takes a Leap Towards Oblivion

March 6, 2007 - by Donny Shaw

The Senate just voted to table the amendment by Jim DeMint (R-SC) that would strike the provision giving collective bargaining rights to TSA officers in S.4, a bill to implement the unfinished recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

To clarify, a vote to table a motion is a vote to leave it behind, unapproved. The vote found 51 in favor of tabling the amendment. 46 voted against tabling it, and three Senators did not vote. The vote was divided almost perfectly along party lines, with only Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (pictured at right, sans dunce cap) deflecting from his party and voting with Democrats.

This vote brings the bill one step closer to a threatened veto from President Bush. Republicans in the House of Representatives say that they now have enough support to uphold the presidential veto. Senate Republicans will most likely also have adequate support to sustain the veto, as evidenced by their decisiveness in today’s vote — 34 votes would be enough to sustain the veto.

For a good rundown of why Republicans are so against this provision, check out this James Sherk article from The Heritage Foundation

The Senate will vote later today on an amendment by Claire McCaskill (D-MO) that would weaken the collective-bargaining provision by allowing TSA administrators to take whatever actions they deem necessary during an emergency.

There is no word yet on whether or not McCaskill’s amendment, if approved, would weaken the collective bargaining provision enough to quell the President’s veto threat.

The provision as it is written in the bill would not allow TSA officers to strike or negotiate higher wages. It would, however, give them the right to appeal suspensions of two weeks or more to an independent arbitration board and stronger protections for whistleblowers who expose wrongdoing.

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