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"Cargo-screen bill clears hurdle"



Friday, July 27, 2007

Cargo-screen bill clears hurdle
By Jay Fitzgerald
The Boston (MA) Herald


U.S. Rep. Edward Markey (D-Malden) yesterday claimed victory in his
four-year battle to have all passenger-airline cargo go through security
screening before planes take off. 
 
Congressional negotiators have agreed on a compromise bill that would phase
in over three years a system requiring commercial cargo - which is now
loaded on passenger planes without the same extensive screening that
passengers and their baggage undergo - would have to be checked by
authorities before flights. 
 
"Passenger shoes have to be taken off (before flights) but the cargo in
planes isn't screened," said Markey of the current system. 
 
Now federal inspectors would have to treat commercial cargo as they do
passengers and their luggage - using a combination of x-ray machines,
chemical-sniffing dogs and other measures to make sure terrorists aren't
trying to sneak aboard explosives or weapons via cargo holds. 
 
Unions for airline pilots and flight attendants hailed the compromise bill,
which Markey, a senior member of the House's Homeland Security Committee,
predicted will be approved by the full House and Senate as soon as next
week. 
 
The Air Transport Association had previously expressed misgivings about any
extensive plan to inspect all commercial cargo on passenger-airlines, saying
it would impede commerce. 
 
But the ATA said in a statement yesterday that it's initial review of the
compromise bill, OK'd by Senate and House negotiators earlier this week,
indicates it can support the new system. 
 
The bill "prudently" creates a "multilayered" security system that won't
harm the free-flow of commerce, said James C. May, ATM's president.

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