WASHINGTON -- February 10 -- The House of Representatives voted 243 to 179 today to reject an amendment that would have stripped section 102 from the "REAL ID Act of 2005" (H.R. 418). The bill, as passed, would empower the Secretary of Homeland Security to waive any federal laws, without limit, in the course of building barriers along the nation's borders. This controversial, precedent-setting legislation received no hearings or extended debate prior to passage. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The following is a statement by J. Robert Shull, Senior Regulatory Policy Analyst with OMB Watch.
"America is a nation founded on the rule of law, but apparently not when homeland security is involved. This is a license to waive any law, for any reason - or for no reason at all.
"If enacted, this bill would grant the Homeland Security Secretary unbridled authority to act however he sees fit, without consequence. His actions also would be exempt from judicial review, making him unaccountable to any authority.
"Laws that protect the environment, safeguard public health, ensure consumer and workplace safety, prevent unfair business practices, and ban discrimination - none of these laws, or any others, would apply to the Department of Homeland Security.
"No government agency should be above the laws that preserve America's democracy."
OMB Watch is a nonprofit research and advocacy center located in Washington, D.C., which promotes an open, accountable government responsive to community needs. Founded in 1983 to lift the veil of secrecy from the White House's powerful Office of Management and Budget, OMB Watch has since expanded its focus to address institutional responsiveness to public needs.