House Passes Comprehensive, Bipartisan Port Security Legislation
Bill includes Rigell's Common-Sense Legislation to Bring Risk-Based Approach to Port Security
Jun 28, 2012 -
Washington – Today the House of Representatives passed with broad bipartisan support H.R. 4251, the SMART Port Security Act of 2012.
The legislation included Congressman Scott Rigell’s amendment which would streamline the port inspection process and free up the United States Coast Guard to focus on screening higher threat ports overseas. H.R. 4251 passed by a vote of 402-21 and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
This legislation balances our security with our fiscal reality. It applies business sense to bureaucracy and ensures we use our scarce and precious resources wisely, which is critical considering our nation’s fiscal challenges,” said Rigell, who serves on the Committee on Homeland Security and represents the Port of Virginia, one of the nation’s busiest ports. Specifically, Rigell’s legislation allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop agreements with nations who maintain robust standards of port security and accept their port security assessments.
The data from these assessments would then be shared on port assessments that the Coast Guard conducts, thereby decreasing time and resources devoted to inspecting low-risk ports in trusted countries. By entering into these agreements, the Secretary would be better able to focus limited port inspection resources on the ports of the greatest risk and keep America's ports safe from foreign threats.
Rigell pointed out that the amendment does not bind the Secretary to any agreement. If an assessment was received by a foreign country that did not meet the standards of the U.S., the Secretary could still send inspectors to that port through the International Port Security Program.
The SMART Port Security of Act of 2012 builds on the work of the 2006 SAFE Port Act to enhance risk-based security measures overseas before the threat reaches our shores, emphasizes a stronger collaborative environment between Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) in sharing port security duties, and leverages the maritime security work of our trusted allies, while requiring DHS to find cost savings.
In addition to this, the legislation:
- Reduces redundancies by allowing DHS to recognize other countries’ Trusted Shipper Programs;
- Requires DHS to update the Maritime Operations Coordination Plan to enhance interagency cooperation;
- Seeks to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars by commissioning a report to study possible cost savings by having the USCG and CBP share facilities, as well as requiring CBP to use standard practices and risk-based assessments when deploying assets;
- Institutes changes to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program to prompt DHS to install readers.
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