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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under the Speaker's announced policy of January 3, 2001, the gentleman from Oregon (Mr. DEFAZIO) is recognized during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.
Mr. DeFAZIO. Mr. Speaker, it has been 7 weeks since the attacks, and the House of Representatives has yet to consider one bill relating to aviation security enhancements. Not one.
Two weeks ago the Senate passed a bill 100 to zero, nothing passes the Senate 100 to zero of any substance, 100 to zero; yet this House has failed to take up that or any other measure, because of one item in disagreement: Who should provide the critical screening function for baggage, carry-on bags and individuals passing into the secure areas of the airport? Should it be the private sector, as the majority whip and the majority leader say, or should it be a Federal law enforcement-national security function provided by competent, well-paid, professional Federal law enforcement personnel, the same way we do INS, Customs, and even agriculture inspection? Those are Federal law enforcement agents.
But somehow, when it comes to the security of the public traveling on airplanes, no, they get second-class treatment. They get security on the cheap. The majority wants to maintain the status quo, which is failing them miserably.
Guess what? That same majority has not mandated that we put private security firms at the doors of the Capitol. If they feel so good about this and if they can provide such a great service, why do they not do that? Because they are mindful of protecting themselves. But they do not care quite so much about the traveling public. They care more about their political sponsors.
Let us look at who the political sponsors are here. There are three foreign owned, hear that, foreign owned huge companies that do most of the private airport security in the United States; and one of them, Securicor of Europe, threatened last week to sue the United States Government if we usurp their function at the airports.
Let us look at how their subsidiary is doing in the U.S. Their subsidiary is Argenbright, one of the three largest security firms providing airport security to more than 40 major airports in the United States of American, including Boston's Logan, Washington's Dulles and others.
Well, they have got a few problems. They were criminally convicted just a year ago of hiring known felons, maintaining known felons on staff, falsifying documents as to the screening and training of the known felons that they had hired. At Dulles Airport, 84 percent of their workers are foreign national; but, they assure us, most of them are legal immigrants. ``Most.''
Most? This is extraordinary, and this is the system that the gentleman from Texas (Mr. ARMEY) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. DELAY) want to perpetuate under pressure from these generous firms. They are generous. Their U.S. subsidiaries can contribute to campaigns, and they do, generously.
Now, let us talk about how they are going to resolve the problems. They do admit it is a little bit of a problem that they are hiring and maintaining known felons on staff; that FAA inspectors are able to get hand grenades, fully assembled guns and other things through the security; that many, many other lapses have been noted. Most notably, last weekend a gentleman was on a Southwest Airlines plane with a fully loaded gun in his briefcase which they had not noticed. They noticed, when he got up to altitude and told the pilot. It was nice of him to do that. But the security screening people from the private firm did not notice the gun.
Now, so what the majority says is well, look, we will make it better. We will have Federal regulations. Well, guess what? We have got Federal regulations now. They are ignoring them. They are ignoring them to the point where they are about to be criminally convicted, in terms of Argenbright, for the second time.
But not removed. But forbid we would remove them from doing this function and fail the American traveling public.
They say they will also mandate wages, not usually something the Republicans want to do. So they say they will mandate wages, they will mandate benefits, they will mandate, and the Federal Government will conduct
background checks since the private firms falsify the documents all the time, and then the Federal Government will either directly train or supervise the training by these firms because they falsify the documents about the training of these people, and the Federal Government will provide supervisors but it will be a private undertaking.
Now, wait a minute. Did they just describe a Rube Goldberg device or what? So the Federal Government is going to do all of these things, but we are going to maintain these private firms, so-called, in place because why? They are doing such a good job? No. Why? Why are we going to maintain them in place? This system that they are describing is so much less efficient than an all-Federal system like we do with Customs, INS, agriculture inspection, and like we do here at the United States Capitol to provide our screening security. Why do they want to give Americans security on the cheap? Change this system. Change it this week. Agree to what the Senate did 100 to zero.
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