Congressional Record: July 24, 2003 (Senate) Page S9857-S9887 DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2004--Continued (H.R. 2555) [...] Amendment No. 1373 Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, last November Congress enacted the largest reorganization of the Federal Government in half a century. At that time, the Senate was under extraordinary pressure to pass a bill quickly. The President traveled the country giving campaign speeches accusing the Senate of not caring about homeland security. The Senate responded by hastily approving the massive reorganization before Members had a chance to study the contents of the 484 pages that were dropped into our laps just a few days before the vote. There were a lot of items in that legislation that would not have survived scrutiny had the Senate spent more time debating the bill. A number of Senators objected to certain provisions in the bill and introduced amendments. But those amendments were never considered because the Senate voted to shut off debate. A good many Senators wanted to put the bill behind us even if it meant settling for a bill that needed more scrutiny. One of the imperfections that the Senate was willing to accept was the unprecedented secrecy that was given to the new Department of Homeland Security. Although the original version of the bill took a responsible, moderate approach to ensure public accountability, the final version that was dumped on the Senate gave the Department carte blanche to conduct its operations in secret. I filed amendments to scale back this excessive secrecy, as did several other Senators. But those amendments were never considered because, as I have already indicated, debate was shut off by cloture. Now we read in the papers that full advantage is being taken of the secrecy in the Department. Their friends and contributors in the private sector have a seat at the homeland security table. Corporate leaders and campaign contributors have been awarded coveted seats on the advisory committees that make policy recommendations to Secretary Ridge and to others in the Department. Consequently, not only do these companies have a direct role in shaping our homeland security policy, but they also have direct access to Department officials who award the private sector contracts for implementing those policies. Last month, for the first time, the Homeland Security Advisory Council met to provide advice and recommendations to the Homeland Security Secretary about this Nation's homeland security needs. It is my understanding Secretary Ridge took the opportunity to remind the council that the Homeland Security Department was soliciting a wide array of innovative counterterrorism technologies. ``There are several million dollars available to the private sector,'' Secretary Ridge said. That information no doubt would have been more than just passing interest to the members of the advisory council. With six CEOs and a member of the board of directors from three top companies, the Homeland Security Advisory Council represents some of the top business interests that are in competition for government contracts related to homeland security. It is worth noting that, according to the New York Daily News, of the 818 members chosen to sit on the advisory committee, 11 members have collectively given more than $200,000 in direct contributions to the Republican Party at a time when questions are already being raised about the propriety of former aides to Secretary Ridge lobbying a Homeland Security Department for Government grants. It is troubling that the Homeland Security Secretary would risk further damage to the Department's credibility by naming to advisory council representatives of top companies that are vying for homeland security contracts and grants. At a time when questions are being asked or raised about the preferential treatment given to major corporate campaign contributors in bidding on Government contracts, it is disconcerting that companies such as Dow Chemical, Eli Lilly, Conoco-Phillips, [[Page S9865]] Black & Decker, Procter and Gamble, and Lockheed Martin are representatives serving on the advisory council. This volunteering by these companies of their CEOs and board members to serve on the advisory council may well be a selfless act of patriotism, but that does not stop them from profiting from the contracts and grants awarded by the Department. Eli Lilly used its connections to use a provision in the Homeland Security Act to shield vaccine makers from lawsuits relative to the use of thimerosal, a mercury-containing preservative once added to childhood vaccines. Dow Chemical received $1.4 million in port security grants from the Homeland Security Department last spring. Lockheed Martin won a long-term contract to help modernize the Coast Guard, a contract that could be worth up to $17 billion. It also contracted to assist the Transportation Security Administration in developing CAPPS II, a controversial data tracking system that will reportedly collect information about nearly every adult American who buys an airline ticket. Despite the specter of the conflict of interest, and despite numerous warnings from Government watchdog groups, the advisory council has been exempted from public disclosure laws. The American people have no way of knowing what is being discussed or what advice is being recommended. There is no way to identify the financial interests of these council members in any advice or recommendations they may make to Secretary Ridge. With a $40 billion homeland security budget and the expectation that the Federal Government will spend hundreds of billions of dollars in the coming years on homeland defenses, corporate America is salivating over the money that is to be made from the grants and contracts being doled out by the Homeland Security Department. Also, being at the table when advice is given to the Homeland Security Secretary can be a very powerful tool. That is all the more reason the Congress should provide the American public with some kind of check to ensure that the advice being given to the Secretary is in the best interests of the Nation's defenses and not just in the best interests of companies soliciting a Government contract. I am concerned about the makeup of these advisory committees and how they are being used. We have no way of knowing what kind of recommendations these corporate CEOs are making to Secretary Ridge or what actions this Department is taking in response to those recommendations. We have no way of knowing whether there are real conflicts of interest when contracts are awarded to the same people who recommended the contracts in the first place. By requiring that the Department of Homeland Security comply with the Federal Advisory Committee Act, my amendment will ensure that Congress and the American people know how these advisory committees are being used. This law has served us well for over 30 years for advisory committees throughout the Federal Government. It includes long-accepted protections for sensitive information relating to law enforcement and national security, so there is no danger of disclosing information that would make our Nation more vulnerable. My amendment will require that the Department disclose basic facts about who is participating in these advisory committees and what kinds of recommendations are being made. The American people have a right to know that the Department of Homeland Security is acting in their best interests, not simply in the interests of any administration's friends in the private sector. This knowledge will strengthen our homeland security efforts, not weaken them, and will ensure public confidence in the policies that any administration--not only this one, but any future administration--chooses to follow. The safety of the American people is at stake. I believe the amendment will make the people safer and better informed. I urge the Senate to adopt this amendment. Mr. President, I call attention to the fact that the amendment is proposed by Mr. Byrd, for himself, Mr. Lieberman, and Mr. Levin. I ask unanimous consent that Senator Clinton's name be added as a cosponsor. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. Mr. BYRD. I send the amendment to the desk. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will report. Mr. BYRD. I ask unanimous consent that the reading of the amendment be dispensed with. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered. The legislative clerk read as follows: The Senator from West Virginia [Mr. Byrd], for himself, Mr. Lieberman, Mr. Levin, and Mrs. Clinton, proposes an amendment numbered 1373. The amendment is as follows: (Purpose: To prohibit funds appropriated under this Act from being used by any advisory committee that has been exempted from the Federal Advisory Committee Act) At the appropriate place, insert the following: Sec. 616. None of the funds appropriated by this Act may be used to fund the activities of any advisory committee (as defined in section 3 of the Federal Advisory Committee Act) that has been exempted from the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App.) pursuant to section 871 of the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (6 U.S.C. 451). The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Mississippi. Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, section 871 of the Homeland Security Act allows for an exemption to the Federal Advisory Committee Act so that meetings of advisory committees at the Department of Homeland Security could go forward in emergency and other unforeseen situations. To form an advisory committee, the Federal Advisory Committee Act requires notice of meetings, publication of meetings in the Federal Register, timely public release of documents associated with the advisory committee meetings, and so forth, including making reading rooms available for members of the public to read the documents that are being discussed by the advisory committee. The Department of Homeland Security and its representatives, when this legislation was being developed, convinced the committee and the Congress to grant a narrow exemption to the Department to permit it to do its job in emergencies to protect and respond to threats to protect the homeland. For example, it was suggested if we had another attack, such as we experienced on September 11, and damages were caused to the telecommunications systems of the east coast, the Department would need to convene a committee of experts and people who understood things that needed to be done to put the telecommunications systems back in running order. And they may not have time to put a notice of an advisory committee meeting in the Federal Register, or to give publication or notice of the meeting, or to have what the act requires: timely public release of documents associated with the meeting to be held. It was the view of the Congress, at the time the act was written creating the Department of Homeland Security, that there were emergency situations that could develop that would require such an exemption. Also, the Department suggests that it requires the ability to meet with private sector officials in private from time to time, as necessity might require. The Department, as I understand it, has not invoked this exemption up to this time, so there is no indication that they are abusing the exemption that has been granted them. They are following the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, I assume, in every other respect. We have received no notice. I have no information personally that any violations of the act have occurred. The Senate passed the Homeland Security Act just months ago, and the Department has been operational only since March, I think, of this year. So to repeal a part of the Homeland Security Act in an appropriations bill that passed the Senate overwhelmingly, and where there has been no indication of abuse, seems to be unnecessary. So I hope the Senate will reject the amendment that is offered by the Senator from West Virginia. Mr. BYRD. Mr. President, the Secretary can, under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, exempt committees from notice rules in an emergency [[Page S9866]] under existing law, whenever he determines it is necessary for national security. It is important that this amendment be adopted. We are not just talking about this administration. We are not just talking about this Secretary of the Department. We are saying that there should not be a blanket exemption available to any Secretary of this Department, when we keep in mind that from a national security standpoint, the Department is exempted, the President can exempt it, the Department head in this case can exempt it. But there are matters other than national security which are important and which are discussed by this Department. For the protection of the American people not only under this administration but also under other administrations that may come and may go, this amendment should be adopted. It is in the interest of the American people that they be protected and that we know that the American people know who is being asked to make recommendations, what recommendations are being made and whether those recommendations are in the interest of the American people. I hope the amendment will be adopted. I urge my colleagues to vote in support of it. Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I ask for the yeas and nays on the amendment of the Senator from West Virginia. The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there a sufficient second? There appears to be a sufficient second. The yeas and nays were ordered. [...] Amendment No. 1373 Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, if under the order it is permitted, we are ready to proceed to a vote on the Byrd amendment on which we just debated. The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator is correct. The question is on agreeing to amendment No. 1373. The yeas and nays have been ordered. The clerk will call the roll. The legislative clerk called the roll. Mr. Reid I announce that the Senator from North Carolina (Mr. Edwards), the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Kerry), and the Senator from Connecticut (Mr. Lieberman), are necessarily absent. I also announce that the Senator from Minnesota (Mr. Dayton) is attending a funeral. I further announce that, if present and voting, the Senator from Minnesota (Mr. Dayton) and the Senator from Massachusetts (Mr. Kerry) would each vote ``yea''. The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Alexander). Are there any other Senators in the Chamber desiring to vote? The result was announced--yeas 46, nays 50, as follows: [Rollcall Vote No. 303 Leg.] YEAS--46 Akaka Baucus Bayh Biden Bingaman Boxer Breaux Byrd Cantwell Carper Chafee Clinton Conrad Corzine Daschle Dodd Dorgan Durbin Feingold Feinstein Graham (FL) Harkin Hollings Inouye Jeffords Johnson Kennedy Kohl Landrieu Lautenberg Leahy Levin Lincoln Mikulski Murray Nelson (FL) Nelson (NE) Pryor Reed Reid Rockefeller Sarbanes Schumer Snowe Stabenow Wyden NAYS--50 Alexander Allard Allen Bennett Bond Brownback [[Page S9867]] Bunning Burns Campbell Chambliss Cochran Coleman Collins Cornyn Craig Crapo DeWine Dole Domenici Ensign Enzi Fitzgerald Frist Graham (SC) Grassley Gregg Hagel Hatch Hutchison Inhofe Kyl Lott Lugar McCain McConnell Miller Murkowski Nickles Roberts Santorum Sessions Shelby Smith Specter Stevens Sununu Talent Thomas Voinovich Warner NOT VOTING--4 Dayton Edwards Kerry Lieberman The amendment (No. 1373) was rejected. Mr. COCHRAN. I move to reconsider the vote. Mr. NICKLES. I move to lay that motion on the table. The motion to lay on the table was agreed to.