(May 4, 2006) -- In a nearly party-line vote, House Republican leadership beat back an attempt by Democrats to amend the "SAFE" Port Act [HR 4954, Security and Accountability For Every Port Act] to add a provision requiring the inspection of all incoming cargo containers.
A "motion to recommit" (send back to committee) the "SAFE" Port Act failed 202-222 after House Republicans prevented amendments on the bill to include a 100% container inspection requirement (authored by Cong. Ed Markey (D., MA), who represents the Boston area).
After the motion to recommit failed, the House passed the "SAFE" Port bill without the 100% container inspection requirement on a 421-2 vote.
Congresswoman Jane Harman (D., Southbay), a co-author of the "SAFE" port bill, voted in favor of the motion to recommit to committee, along with Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D., Garden Grove). So did Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB).
Former LB resident/representative Cong. Dan Lungren (R., Sacramento), who co-authored the "SAFE" port bill, voted against the 100% container inspection requirement. So did Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R., HB-LB-PV), who represents roughly 20% of LB (SE ELB).
The 100% container inspection amendment was opposed by the "American Ass'n of Port Authorities" in which the Port of LB is a member. The Long Beach City Council has taken no position on the 100% inspection of cargo containers and took no public position on the bill.
The 100% container inspection requirement was championed by Congressman Ed Markey (D., MA), who represents the Boston area. In a scathing speech on the House floor, Cong. Markey said the "SAFE" Port bill without the amendment contains a "fatal flaw" that allows containers to enter the U.S. based basically on paperwork.
Debate was intense.
Meanwhile, a Senate committee passed a Port security bill that requires all U.S.-bound cargo be screened overseas or be turned away from U.S. ports...but leaves unclear when the measure would start being enforced. Differences would have to be ironed-out in a House-Senate conference committee.