Right before recess, the SAFE Port conference report sailed onto the House Floor, cruising past the procedural sign posts that are essential for developing legislation.  Why the short cut?, To let Republicans claim they did something on homeland security before hitting the campaign trail.

Republicans cut out the conference committee, replacing it with a charade.  And just like in charades, members were forced to makes guesses - in this case, guesses about what was actually in the bill itself, because the Republicans never provided a copy during the entire session!  As a member of the Committee, I can say with certainty that the whole thing was a farce.

Republicans shut down the conference after opening statements, preventing any amendments from being offered.   The next day, Congress finally was presented with a copy of the bill, the details of which were worked out behind closed doors.

And when the bill finally arrived, what did we find, tacked onto the end of this bill?  A provision strengthening maritime cargo security?  NO!

A mandate that hazardous materials be rerouted around urban areas when a safer route exists?  NO!

Funding for public transit and rail security supported by both the House and Senate?  NO!

Instead, at the end of the bill, Republicans inserted a totally unrelated INTERNET GAMBLING BILL.

This bill actually does gamble with our homeland security, so perhaps a gambling provision is - ironically - appropriate. That's because there are gaping security loopholes in this bill big enough to drive a cargo container through!

For example, the bill contains ONLY A PILOT PROGRAM to study 100% scanning of cargo containers overseas - even though the technology exists today to scan 100% of U.S.-bound cargo containers at ports overseas to make sure they don't contain nuclear bombs.

We know that Al Qaeda and jihadists around the world seek to inflict the most damage possible on our nation.  And as the National Intelligence Estimate released earlier this fall indicates, the War in Iraq has become a “cause celebre