Homeland security bill passes House

Congress last week acted quickly to move legislation to establish a Homeland Security Department. The measure made it through the House on Wednesday and was expected to clear the Senate later in the week.

Though Democrats appeared likely to retain control of the Senate for a brief period of the lame-duck session that began last week, legislative sources said lawmakers were able to reach a compromise on the contentious issue of management flexibility in the new department.

Lawmakers and congressional aides conferred over the weekend following the Nov. 5 election to draft compromise language on the management issue, sources said. Democrats and federal unions had opposed the administration's proposals for greater management flexibility over workers' assignments and other conditions, saying they would undermine civil-service protections and employees' collective-bargaining rights.

The compromise provides for mediation between civil-service unions and the Homeland Security Department over proposed changes to civil-service rules and collective-bargaining protections, sources said. A spokeswoman for one civil-service union said her organization is opposed to the compromise but is unlikely to be able to stop it.

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