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Congress Guts Border Fence, Blocks 9/11 Commission Recommendation

9:57 AM, Dec 18, 2007 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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The blogosphere seems to be filled today with reports on the omnibus spending bill passed last night by the House of Representatives. The Politico writes on the liberal defeat, while the Hill celebrates 'an earmark Christmas.' Along those lines, the Heritage Foundation reports that the omnibus contains over 11,000 earmarks worth a total of about $20 billion, and uses budget gimmicks to spend $19.6 billion more than the president requested for FY08. It falls far short of the promise to reduce pork-barrel projects by half, instead approaching the peak of 13,492 such projects enacted in 2005.

For details on what is in, and what is out, visit omnibusting.org. Two reforms that were dropped from the final bill after having passed earlier are a bar on funding for Hillary Clinton's 'Hippie Museum,' and a bar on aid to so-called 'sanctuary cities.'

And a surprising move--given the increased concern about border security--is the decision to enact several provisions to make it harder to enforce U.S. immigration laws. Besides the decision not to penalize sanctuary cities, Democratic leaders also elected to scale down the border fence currently under construction, and to delay implementation of tougher ID standards at border crossings.

It's worth noting that Congressional Democrats have repeatedly claimed credit for implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. Will they now also 'take credit' for deferring action on a key recommendation as well? This is what the Commission had to say about the need for secured identification documents (page 390 of the report):

Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for … sources of identification…. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and check whether they are terrorists.

All but one of the September 11 hijackers obtained some form of U.S. identification document. Most involved some type of fraud. This move by Congress to block the effort to improve the security of identification documents will set up an important fight with the administration, which argues that it has the authority to go forward on schedule even if the omnibus spending bill is signed into law.