Homeland Security Committee Passes SMART Port Security Act

Jun 6, 2012 Issues: Maritime Security

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), passed, by voice vote,  H.R. 4251, the SMART Port Security Act.

H.R. 4251, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, will enhance maritime security programs under the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Subcommittee Chairman Miller said: “Securing our waterways is an essential component of a layered approach to security.  A major disruption at one of the Nation’s ports, especially a terrorist attack, is a high-consequence event that has the potential to cripple the global supply chain and could severely damage our economy.  This bill enhances risk-based security measures overseas before the threat reaches our shores, emphasizing a stronger collaborative environment between Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard in sharing port security duties, and leveraging the maritime security work of our trusted allies.

“Maritime security is an important aspect of our efforts to secure the homeland, and smart, cost-effective choices have to be made that maximize our resources while ensuring the security of our ports – and by extension our way of life.  The SMART Port Security Act is a step in the right direction that encourages all our homeland security assets to better coordinate and more effectively secure the maritime environment, recognizes the importance of partnerships with private industry and our international partners, and does so without an increase in spending.”

The legislation, as amended, will bolster the Nation’s maritime security by directing DHS components 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 cost savings.  

Specifically, H.R. 4251, as amended:

·         Reduces 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;

·         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 Credentials (TWIC) program to prompt DHS to install readers, improve efficiency for enrollees, and prevent unauthorized use.

In addition, the legislation requires DHS to complete a detailed strategic plan for global supply chain security.  In January, the Obama Administration published a six-page Global Supply Chain Security Strategy, which was the focus of a Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security hearing.  H.R. 4251 requires a more in-depth approach to global supply chain security with a focus on providing incentives for the private sector and measurable goals.

For detailed information on today’s markup, including roll call votes, visit the Committee on Homeland Security website.

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