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Homeland security streamlining

Senate tackles DHS bill excesses, including vaccine liability and university center provision.

Peg Brickley(pegbrickley@hotmail.com)

Senate Democrats and Republicans are expected to face off today over a new university center for homeland security and other items that some have labeled as pork in legislation creating a new Department of Homeland Security. The 484-page bill cleared the House of Representatives last week and is scheduled for debate on the Senate floor today.

Chief among the provisions Senate Democrats will try to strip out of the bill is one that immunizes makers of vaccines and other anti-terrorism technology from liability for their products. Biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry lobbyists campaigned long and hard for the protection from lawsuits, jousting with trial lawyers and consumer advocates in a long-running high-stakes debate.

"We are pleased that the issue of liability was resolved in the bill that is going to the Senate," Sharon Cohen, vice president for government relations for the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) told The Scientist.

Another contentious...

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