A national security bill is the top priority of Democrats during their self-imposed 100-hour deadline to pass six pieces of legislation.

The bill includes recommendations from the 9/11 committee and is supported by former commission members Lee Hamilton, also former Democratic member of the House, and Tim Roemer, also a former Republican member of the House. The bill would require screening for all air and shipping cargo entering the country. All air cargo would be screened within three years, and all shipped cargo within four years. The bill also would change the criteria used to prioritize homeland security funding for states.

“If this bill … is enacted, funded and implemented, then the American people will be safer,” Hamilton said. “We are — all of us on the 9/11 commission — deeply pleased that the speaker and the leadership of the House have decided to put this bill forward with the No. 1 designation.”

One Web site writer says the passage of the national security bill during the 100-hour period, which began today, is too fast. On www.freerepublic.com, the writer says that the 277-page bill has only been available since Friday.

“While it’s extremely important that Congress refocus attention on homeland security and particularly international policies that have been sidelined with attention to Iraq, we’d like to see the House give a bill of this importance (not to mention length) more than a cursory treatment,” the writer says.

The Associated Press reports that some Republicans also oppose the Democrats’ quick passage of the bill, which will bypass several hearings. The cost of the new measures has not been released.

Other goals during the 100 hours include lobbying reform, raising the national minimum wage, reducing prescription drug costs for seniors and cutting college loan interest rates for students.

Before the bills can become law, they must be passed in the Senate, which moves at a much slower pace, and by President George W. Bush, who holds the power to veto legislation.

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