What: All Issues : Justice for All: Civil and Criminal : Punishment Fitting the Crime : HR 1. (Sept. 11 commission recommendations) DeMint of South Carolina motion to insist that convicted felons not be eligible for a new transportation worker identification card/On the motion
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HR 1. (Sept. 11 commission recommendations) DeMint of South Carolina motion to insist that convicted felons not be eligible for a new transportation worker identification card/On the motion
senate Roll Call 283     Jul 26, 2007
Y = Conservative
N = Progressive
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This vote was on a motion by Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to send a bill that would implement some of the recommendations made by the Sept. 11 Commission back to the committees that worked on the measure to be rewritten. In essence, a motion to recommit sends a bill back to the committees that drafted it in the first place, for a sort of "do-over." Recommittal motions are rarely adopted. DeMint's motion would instruct those committees to include language that would prohibit all convicted felons from being issued Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC).

In order to work at a seaport, or drive a truck into a seaport, workers must have a Homeland Security Department-issued TWIC card. Workers may only receive a TWIC card if they are in the country legally and have not been convicted of a terrorism-related crime. The TWIC program was established as a way of tightening security at seaports to guard against further terrorist attacks.

The bill at issue would implement many of the recommendations made by the Sept. 11 Commission, a nonpartisan group that studied the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and what the United States should do to prevent another similar attack.

DeMint said the measure should be sent back to the committees of jurisdiction and modified so that TWIC cards could not be issued to someone convicted of any felony, not just those related to terrorism. He said the TWIC bill as it stands simply allows the Homeland Security Department to modify the list of felonies that can disqualify someone from receiving a TWIC card, leaving it up to bureaucrats to decide instead of those in Congress.

"What the 9/11 Commission bill does is allow the Secretary to eliminate or change listed felonies, allowing TWIC cards, these secure area cards, to possibly be given to those who have been convicted of smuggling, arson, kidnapping, rape, extortion, bribery, money laundering, hostage taking, unlawful use of a firearm, drug dealing, immigration violations, assault with intent to kill, robbery, fraudulent entry to a seaport or racketeering," DeMint said. "These are serious crimes. Although there is often talk of giving people a second chance, that second chance should not come at the expense of the security of our Nation."

Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., said he had supported something similar to what DeMint wants earlier in the process, but that compromising with others in the House and Senate meant changing the TWIC bill to its current form.

"In my opinion, the difference is not great. We simply give the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority, with his judgment as the protector of our homeland security, to decide when and if certain of these enumerated convictions ought not any longer to be a prohibition to working in our ports," Lieberman said. He added that recommitting the bill over this provision would delay the measure, which contains important security protections, for too long.

By a vote of 26-67, the Senate rejected DeMint's motion to send the bill back to its committees of jurisdiction. All Democrats present voted against the motion. Republicans were more divided, with 26 voting for the motion, and 19 voting against it. Thus, the motion to rewrite the bill to prohibit convicted felons from being eligible for a TWIC card was defeated, and debate on the bill continued.

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