After seven years, Congress still can’t agree on measures to combat nuclear terrorism.
Now, in an unexpected twist — just before the Senate recessed for the fall elections — Republicans tried to change anti-nuclear terrorism legislation the House embraced in June and which has the approval of the White House and former Bush administration officials.
In a Sept. 13 op-ed in The Washington Times, Andy Semmel, a former Bush administration official, wondered what the holdup was.
“Congress hasn’t given its best effort to prevent nuclear terrorism,” he wrote. “Senate approval of the pending implementing legislation remains the last hurdle.”
Leahy fired back in a letter to the editor, saying Senate Republicans were responsible for the setback.
Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the committee, did not like how the bill was moving forward — with no opportunity to add amendments.
“Given the seriousness of the topic and the differences between the House-passed bill and what the president proposed, Sen. Grassley asked for the bill to either be referred to committee, where members can offer amendments, or allow for a fair amendment process on the floor to reconcile the differences,” a Senate source said.
One of his main objections was the death penalty provision, which had been stripped from the House bill with the White House’s approval.
“It is vital that the Senate pass the implementing legislation, which has already been approved by the GOP-led House, in this session of Congress,” said Kingston Reif, director of nuclear non-proliferation at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Swift congressional approval is important not only to ensure U.S. laws are sufficient but also to help prod other countries into action.”
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