Are We Safer? (Are We Even Safe?) Does Congress Care?

| Tue Sep. 12, 2006 7:45 PM EDT

The US Congress at its finest (AP):

WASHINGTON - Ports security legislation that most senators agree would make the country safer was stuck Tuesday in election-year politics as Republicans threatened to scrap it if Democrats forced in a wide range of provisions.

It was unclear when the Senate would vote — if ever — on the bill that as recently as last week was considered a sure thing.

The Democratic plan "will kill the bill," said Sen. Ted Stevens (news, bio, voting record), R-Alaska. "We have a bipartisan bill to start with. ... All these amendments are just coming out of the sewer right now. There's just too many of them, and they're just nothing but attempts to block this bill."

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid said his plan would also bolster security on trains and buses and at chemical plants, strengthen U.S. intelligence missions overseas and approve all of the 9/11 Commission's recommendations, half of which are still undone.

"Let's see if they'll vote against this," said Reid, D-Nev., hoisting a thick stack of white papers.

A timely reminder that, even though the midterms might turn on the issue of national security, that doesn't mean anything beneficial to national security will actually get done in the next couple of months.