Friday, May 05, 2006

Wal-Mart Against Homeland Security

Congressman Jerry Nadler, a great progressive,* has a great posting on TPM Cafe highlighting the resistance of Wal-Mart and other retailers to his Sail Only if Scanned (S.O.S) Act.

The bill requires that all containers be scanned for radiation and density at the port of origin. It's a matter of great concern to Nadler, whose district includes substantial stretches of waterfront.

However, the issue is of less concern to a select group. The Congressman writes:
Wal-Mart and other mega-importers, under the umbrella of the Retail Industry Leaders Association, have been lobbying fiercely against 100-percent scanning. The industry alleges that scanning every container would slow down commerce and harm their profits. If that sounds achingly familiar, it's because that's the same objection raised by industry groups when Congress decided, after 9/11, that every airline passenger and every piece of luggage needed to be scanned. Lobbyists foretold clogged airports, massive delays, and the death of the airline industry. But, as so often happens, common sense trumped corporate paranoia. Our flights depart on-schedule, and every bag is scanned.
Profits before the human health and safety. Sound familiar?

Bowing to pressure from Wal-Mart and others, the House passed a substantially weaker bill yesterday. A vote to strengthen the bill by including 100% scanning lost 222-202. Every single Republican congressmember from New York (Sweeney, Kuhl, Fossella, Reynolds, Walsh, Kelly, King, McHugh, Boehlert) voting for weakened scanning.

* Full disclosure: My first full-time job on a campaign was as deputy press secretary on Jerry's 1989 campaign for City Comptroller.

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