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GOP blocks Schumer on PASS card test run

Republicans on Thursday blocked an attempt by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., to amend the Department of Homeland Security spending bill to mandate that DHS conduct a trial run of the technology of its proposed PASS card.

Schumer's bill would bar the Bush administration from implementing any new identification requirements for crossing the Canadian border until tests were made.

"Acting like blindfolded bullies, DHS and the State Department have been unwilling to see past their own agenda, ignoring the benefits of conducting trials to ensure that the best possible technology is being used in the new PASS cards," Schumer said.

The PASS card has been endorsed by Homeland Security and the State Department as a compact substitute for a passport.

Schumer's office said he will try to attach the amendment to another bill.

The Bush administration wants a tamper-proof identification card of a passport presented to inspectors for crossing the border after next New Year's Day. The House has passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-N.Y., to delay implementation until June 1, 2009.

The House legislation also requires the administration to conduct trials before implementation. The Senate version, which also delays implementation until mid-2009, is expected to be debated next week.

In January, Schumer complained to the administration that it had not done tests to determine whether the system works, or whether it will unduly invade the privacy of Americans or visitors to the United States.

"The proposed PASS Card will offer all of the inconvenience and inefficiencies of a standard passport book, while providing none of the security assurances for individuals' private information," he said then.

e-mail: dturner@buffnews.com

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