The US Congress passes anti-terror bill

Other News Materials 28 July 2007 10:57 (UTC +04:00)

( BBC ) - The US Congress has approved an anti-terrorism bill implementing many recommendations of the commission which investigated the 11 September attacks.

The bill, which the White House says President Bush will sign, allocates a greater share of funding to cities at higher risk of terrorist attack.

It also requires the authorities to screen all cargo on passenger planes and container ships within five years.

Democrats made the bill a priority when they won control of Congress this year.

Once it is signed by President George W Bush, it will help the party fulfil the third of its six major campaign promises made before the elections last November.

The House of Representatives approved the Democratic bill on Friday by a vote of 371-40, the day after the Senate passed it by 85-8.

The anti-terrorism legislation will authorise significant increases in grants for homeland security, providing $4bn over four years for transit security, $750m a year for airport security and $1.8bn next year for states and high-risk cities.

As recommended by the 9/11 Commission, those states not considered to be at high risk of a terrorist attack will have their homeland security grants halved.

The bill also requires the screening of all cargo on passenger planes within three years and, within five years, the scanning of all container ships for nuclear devices before they leave foreign ports.

Federal grants will also be issued to state and local governments to ensure the interoperability of radios between emergency services.

"With passage of the 9/11 commission recommendations under Democratic leadership, Congress has kept its promise to the families who suffered so much on 9/11," said the leader of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

"We have honoured the work of the bi-partisan and independent 9/11 commission and we have made the American people more secure."

The Democrats agreed to modify some measures to win Republican approval and dropped one element - allowing airport screening personnel to unionise - which had prompted President Bush to threaten a veto.

Afterwards, the White House said it still had reservations about the bill but that its major concerns had been addressed.

"The president will sign the legislation," a statement said.

The bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, or 9/11 Commission, published its final report in 2004 following testimony from more than 1,000 witnesses and examination of as many classified documents.

It found the US government had "failed to protect American people" from the attacks.