November 20, 2002

Senate passes Homeland Security
With the 107th Congress nearing a close, the Senate last night gave its blessing to homeland security legislation on a 90-to-9 vote a week after it sailed through the House of Representatives, 299-121. The bill will now go to President Bush for signature after the House agrees to technical revisions, probably on Friday.

Washington sources now believe that the new department will indeed be headed by Governor Tom Ridge, the present Homeland Security Advisor. For the marine industry, a crucial question is who will fill the key role of Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security. Former Coast Guard Commandant Admiral James Loy, the current Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Security, would seem a logical choice.

Primary responsibilities of the new Under Secretary include: (1) preventing the entry of terrorists and the instruments of terrorism into the United States, (2) securing the borders, territorial waters, ports, terminals, waterways, and air, land, and sea transportation systems of the United States, (3) administering the immigration and naturalization laws of the United States, including the establishment of rules governing the granting of visas and other forms of permission to enter the United States to individuals who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents, (4) administering the customs laws of the United States, and (5) ensuring the speedy, orderly, and efficient flow of lawful traffic and commerce in carrying out these responsibilities.

Agencies and functions relevant to border and transportation security that are to be transferred to the Department of Homeland Security include both Loy's present agency, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Coast Guard, both now within the Department of Transportation. The legislation expressly requires that the Coast Guard be maintained as a distinct entity within the Department of Homeland Security.

The Under Secretary for Border and Transportation Security will also be responsible for the United States Customs Service (now in the Department of the Treasury), the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now in the Department of Justice) and the Federal Protective Service of the General Services Administration is also transferred to the Department.

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