Democrats in the House of Representatives have moved to implement some of the unfulfilled recommendations of the September 11 commission as the first in a string of bills over the next two weeks aimed at asserting their new control over Congress.
The bill would redirect homeland security funds to more urban areas based on their likelihood of becoming a target of terrorists and eventually require that all cargo containers bound for the United States be scanned for nuclear materials and explosives.
"Here's a chance for Congress to stop dragging its feet," said Rep Bennie Thompson, the new Democratic chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
"It's been three years since the 9/11 Commission issued its report. Now is the time to put words into action."
Republicans found themselves in the same position that Democrats said they had occupied the past 12 years when the Republicans had control of the House, frozen out in writing the bill and with no chance to offer amendments to it.
"We as Republicans had no say whatsoever on this legislation," said Rep Peter King, the homeland security panel's former chairman and now its senior Republican member.
He said the bill "gives false hope to the American people" because technology for scanning all cargo containers is not available now.
The bill is the first of six that new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, promised to pass within the first 100 hours of Congress.
Today, the House is scheduled to take up a bill increase the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 an hour, followed by another bill Thursday to expand federally funded stem cell research.