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    NY Congressman Tries, But Fails In Effort, To Add $15 Billion To Fund Fed'l Inspection & Sealing Of All Cargo Containers Bound For U.S.

    (April 6, 2003) -- Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D. NY), who has introduced legislation to require federal inspection and sealing of all cargo containers bound for the U.S., was recently foiled in an effort to amend the recent Supplemental Budget bill to provide $15 billion to fund such a program.

    Congressman Nadler's amendment was stopped by a Republican asserted point of order. We post a transcript of the April 3 House proceedings below.

    Congressman Nadler, whose NYC constituents live in the shadow of one of the nation's busiest ports, proposed $15 billion for "necessary expenses for inspection by a United States inspection team in foreign ports of every shipping container, before the container is loaded on a vessel bound for the United States, and for boarding and searching every vessel before it approaches closer than 200 miles to the United States coast."


    Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

    The CHAIRMAN. The Clerk will designate the amendment.

    The text of the amendment is as follows:

    Amendment offered by Mr. Nadler:

    In chapter 5 of title I, under the heading ``BOARDER AND TRANSPORTATION SECURITY'', insert the following:

    Port Security

    For necessary expenses for inspection by a United States inspection team in foreign ports of every shipping container, before the container is loaded on a vessel bound for the United States, and for boarding and searching every vessel before it approaches closer than 200 miles to the United States coast, $15,000,000,000.

    Mr. NADLER. Mr. Chairman, I will not take all of my time.

    Mr. Chairman, Islamic terrorist groups served loud notice on 9/11 that they intend to kill as many Americans as possible. Yet the administration and this Congress is ignoring the most likely modes of attack. We are spending upwards of $100 billion on an antiballistic missile system supposedly to protect ourselves against a rogue nation like Iraq or Iran or North Korea that might want to launch two or three nuclear armed missiles at us. Yet such a nation would be unlikely to use missiles to attack us if they wanted to, because missiles have return addresses, and the leaders know that American retaliation would obliterate their country a half an hour later.

    Rogue nations and terrorists that want to attack the United States with atomic weapons would more likely put those weapons on ships, sail the ships into American ports and detonate the atomic bombs. Not knowing against whom to retaliate, the United States would be helpless.

    Every year 12 million shipping containers enter the United States. We inspect fewer than 2 percent of them. This amendment provides $15 billion for two purposes:

    First, so that we can insist that no container in a foreign port is loaded on a ship bound to the United States until that container is searched, sealed and certified by American inspectors. If a country refuses access, it should be prohibited from shipping anything to the United States.

    Second, the amendment provides funds to enable the Coast Guard to board and search every single ship before they get within 200 miles of American shores, and we must inspect at the border all cargo unloaded from ships in other North American ports. Only by inspecting every container before it is loaded onto a ship in a foreign port and by searching every ship before it gets close enough to our shores can we be reasonably assured that atomic bombs will not obliterate American cities.

    Some will object that this will hinder commerce. But one atomic bomb would halt commerce instantly. Every port would be closed tight until these procedures could be put, too late, into place.

    This would cost money, about $15 billion a year, but we can afford it. Unfortunately, the administration and Republicans in Congress prefer to squander hundreds of billions of dollars for tax cuts on the wealthy instead of protecting the lives of our people. We have to realize we are in a serious war that may last decades and we must start thinking and acting seriously.

    In wartime the government must spend the money to defend the lives of its people or it violates the fundamental social contract. President Bush and Congress must honor that contract or forfeit the trust of the Nation.

    So I ask that this amendment be allowed to be considered. I urge the Congress to meet its obligation and to fully fund the security measures to inspect every container and search every ship that is contained in this amendment.


    Mr. YOUNG of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I make a point of order against the amendment because it proposes to change existing law and constitutes legislation in an appropriations bill, and therefore violates clause 2 of rule XXI.

    The rule states in pertinent part: An amendment to a general appropriations bill shall not be in order if changing existing law.

    The amendment imposes additional duties, and I ask for a ruling from the Chair.

    The CHAIRMAN. Does any other Member wish to be heard on the point of order?

    If not, the Chair is prepared to rule.

    The Chair finds that this amendment does include language requiring a new determination and requiring further duties. The amendment, therefore, constitutes legislation in violation of clause 2 of rule XXI.

    The point of order is sustained and the amendment is not in order.

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