House passes SMART Port Security Act, among others
WASHINGTON—The House of Representatives passed a collection of homeland security bills on June 28, including the SMART Port Security Act.
The five bills address a number of issues, including the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, how states and local governments can use homeland security grant funding, and aviation security. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, called them "common-sense bills" in a statement.
They all now go to the Senate for deliberation.
The largest piece of legislation is known as The SMART Port Security Act (H.R. 4251). This bill will direct components of the Department of Homeland Security with maritime security responsibilities to improve cooperation and coordination with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, support and enhance risk-based supply chain programs, and find ways to save money.
Specifically, the legislation would:
--> Reduce redundancies by allowing DHS to recognize other countries’ Trusted Shipper Programs, in addition to allowing the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to recognize other governments’ or organizations’ port security threat assessments;
--> Require DHS to update the Maritime Operations Coordination Plan to enhance interagency cooperation;
-->Seek to improve efficiency and save taxpayer dollars by commissioning a report to study possible cost savings by having the USCG and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) share facilities, as well as require CBP to use standard practices and risk-based assessments when deploying assets;
-->Institute changes to the TWIC program to prompt DHS to install readers, improve efficiency for enrollees, and prevent unauthorized use;
-->Require DHS to develop a more in-depth strategic plan for global supply chain security with a focus on providing incentives for the private sector and measurable goals.
The House also passed the following bills:
H.R. 5843, which amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to allow state and local governments and emergency management officials to use funds from FEMA's State Homeland Security Grant Program to contract with national laboratories to to assist in research and training purposes.
The Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2011 (H.R. 1447), which creates within the Transportation Security Administration an Aviation Security Advisory Committee, which will provide recommendations on the development and implementation of policies and programs related to aviation security.
The Gauging American Port Security Act (H.R. 4005), which directs the DHS secretary to conduct a study and report to Congress on gaps in port security in the United States and a plan to address them.
And H.R. 3173, which directs the DHS secretary to reform the process for the enrollment, activation, issuance, and renewal of a Transportation Worker Identification Credential to require not more than one in-person visit to a designated enrollment center.