President George W. Bush gets a chance to promote fellow Republicans as America's tough-on-terror Friday as he signs into law a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Congress that aims to enhance port security and close a loophole in anti-terror defenses.
The bill also includes an unrelated provision that seeks to put teeth into laws that forbid most online gambling.
But Bush was not planning to mention the Internet gambling provision during Friday's White House signing ceremony, which was expected to draw lawmakers from both parties.
Instead, Bush's remarks were to focus on the multiple ways the legislation could reduce the likelihood that terrorists could sneak a nuclear, chemical or biological weapons device into the United States in one of the 11 million shipping containers that enter the country each year, many without any inspection.
Congress approved the bill two weeks ago, one of its last acts before lawmakers left to campaign for the Nov. 7 midterm elections in which national security, the war in Iraq and terrorism are expected to be major factors, reports AP.
The administration has spent about US$10 billion (Ђ8 billion) to enhance security at the nation's ports since the Sept. 11 attacks. About 65 percent of cargo, that considered most high-risk, is screened for nuclear or radiological materials. The Homeland Security Department aims to increase that number to 80 percent by the end of the year and to almost 100 percent by the end of 2007.