House Democrats have drawn up legislation that would authorize billions of additional dollars to screen all cargo bound for the U.S., buy new screening technology for airline passengers, and dramatically expand efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world, says the Boston Globe. The legislation, which may be considered by the full House as early as next week, would require that federal homeland security funding be allocated to cities and towns based on an assessment of their risk of terrorism. That would change the current formula that has resulted in some less populated areas receiving more security money per capita than large cities like New York, Washington, and Boston.
The bill provides for greater oversight to ensure that antiterrorism efforts do not infringe on civil liberties, by establishing an independent agency to review complaints of violations of privacy. Conservatives warn about the budgetary implications of creating large programs that may not achieve their goals. “Simply authorizing more homeland security spending will not make Americans safer,” said James Carafano of the Heritage Foundation. Conservatives have expressed particular skepticism about massive efforts to protect local bridges, tunnels, and transportation networks. “The far better investment of federal dollars is on counterterrorism programs that break up terror cells and thwart attacks before they occur,” Carafano said.