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US Senate approves bill to increase port security

[JURIST] The US Senate [official website] unanimously approved a port security bill [HR 4954 text] Thursday that would require the government to install radiation-detection devices at US ports and to test the feasibility of scanning US-bound cargo overseas. Senators nonetheless voted 61-37 [roll call] against setting a four-year deadline for all US-bound cargo to be scanned for nuclear weapons at foreign ports. While Democrats supported the deadline, many Republicans said the proposal would hurt the shipping industry.

Port security has been a critical issue in Congress [JURIST report] since an Arab state-owned company, Dubai Ports World [corporate website], purchased control of several major US port operations. After much controversy [JURIST news archive], the company decided to transfer control of the ports to a US entity [JURIST report] to avoid further political controversy. The bill passed Thursday, which also authorized $3.5 billion for port security initiatives, must be reconciled with a similar version passed by the House in May. Reuters has more.

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