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US Senate to Vote on Intelligence Reform Bill Wednesday

  • Deborah Tate

The Senate is expected to pass a sweeping intelligence reform bill and send it to President Bush for his signature.

A day after the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved intelligence reform legislation, the Senate is expected to follow suit.

The measure generally adopts recommendations of the September 11 Commission aimed at preventing future terrorist attacks. The bill calls for the establishment of a national intelligence director and a national counterterrorism center to coordinate the gathering and sharing of intelligence.

The legislation is the culmination of months of hearings, meetings and often tense negotiations.

"What we will pass today is the most sweeping reform of our intelligence community since the beginning of the CIA [Central Intelligence Agency]," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. "This is a huge accomplishment for the United States of America, for the United States Congress, and indeed for the President of the United States, but most importantly for the American people, whose safety is first and foremost in our minds."

Despite overwhelming support for the bill, some lawmakers say it fails to address tougher immigration standards, and in particular does not bar illegal immigrants, including potential terrorists, from getting a driver's license or other identification.

Senator Frist vowed the issue would be brought before Congress.

"Intelligence community reform and strengthening and improvement is an ongoing process, and debates and recommendations will continue well into the future," Sen. Frist said.

A White House spokesman says President Bush is looking forward to signing the intelligence reform bill into law, saying it will make America safer.

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