The U.S. Senate -may- vote today on a bill creating a Homeland Security Department and Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley fears it may -not- pass. Grassley, a Republican, says a Senate Democrat has offered an amendment to the bill which may complicate the issue. Grassley says the House may not come back into session, so if the Homeland Security bill is amended in any way by the Senate, it’s dead until after the first of the year. Senate Democrats are trying to strip out provisions they say are Republican gifts to special interest groups. The Democrats are especially unhappy with one measure they say would protect drug companies from lawsuits over vaccines they create. The protections would be retroactive to lawsuits already in court. Republicans say liability protections have been given to companies that make things for war efforts. While Grassley says it’s “sad” that the Homeland Security bill may not pass this year, he says it would be a priority for early in 2003.The proposed Homeland Security Department would bring together agencies that oversee everything from immigration to energy security.
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