Leahy, Jeffords speak against homeland security bill

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(Host) The battle over a plan to create a new agency of homeland security is heating up in Congress and both of Vermont’s senators are urging their colleagues not to support a plan supported by the Bush administration.

The president sent a letter to Senate Democratic leaders this week, signed by all his cabinet members. The correspondence demanded that the Senate back Bush’s proposal to exempt all of the agency’s employees from traditional job protections that are guaranteed by the federal employees civil service union.

Leahy says the plan is a bad idea and he notes that the delay over the bill has taken place because Senate Republicans have postponed action on the legislation more than 10 times:

(Leahy) “One of the things that we found over the years is to not make critical jobs in our government just political patronage jobs. I don’t care if it’s a Democratic administration or a Republican administration. Jobs that are going to protect your national security you look for the best people, not just open it up for one political party or the other to fill the ranks for employment. They used to have the old spoils system 100 years ago. We’ve changed that and we’re better off because of it.”

(Host) Jeffords says he opposes the Bush plan because it’s clearly an effort to hurt the federal employees union:

(Jeffords) “And changing the rules for employees – I know that’s what they want. They don’t like unions, they don’t like organizations that protect employees, so that’s the way it looks to me.”

(Host) The president is urging Congress to vote on the bill before Election Day.

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