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Senate Passes Bill to Create Department of Homeland Security

New York, Nov 21, 2002

With a 90-to-9 vote on Tuesday, the U.S. Senate set in motion the most comprehensive reorganization of the federal bureaucracy to take place since 1947 with the passage of a bill that will create a new Department of Homeland Security. The bill, which must go back to the House for a voice vote after some technical changes by the Senate, will create a new Cabinet-level department merging 22 diverse agencies. A new Cabinet secretary, most likely current director of domestic security Tom Ridge, will lead the 170,000 employees currently working in the agencies that face merger.

Originally proposed by Democrats as a response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and The Pentagon, the creation of the department has been in limbo for over a year. President Bush abandoned his initial rejection of the idea and delivered a bill of his own after the original proposal had gained significant momentum. After months of political wrangling, renewed Republican control of the Senate pushed through the passage of the bill in one of the final acts of the 107th Congress.

The department will officially be born 60 days after President Bush signs the bill, but it will be months before the department is actually functioning. The standards community will be closely watching the progress of the Department of Homeland security and its effects on issues such as transportation and cyber security, and interoperability of emergency-response equipment. There are several areas that were not adequately covered by the legislation and will have to wait until next year for attention from lawmakers. Among these concerns is the omission of first-responder funds that would have addressed the need for improved interoperability of emergency-response equipment.

See related stories:

Congress Approves $903 Million in Grants to Improve Cyber Security

Standards to Play Key Role in Protecting U.S. Says Homeland Security Official

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