House Homeland Security Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Passes SMART Port Security Legislation

Mar 27, 2012 Issues: Maritime Security

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, chaired by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), passed by voice vote, bipartisan legislation to secure our ports and better protect the homeland, H.R. 4251.

H.R. 4251, as amended, directs DHS components with maritime security responsibilities to improve coordination and partner with other Federal, State and local law enforcement agencies, as well as appropriate international entities, in order to enhance the Nation’s maritime security, implement risk based-methodology to secure the global supply chain, and find cost savings. The SMART Port Security Act, also incorporates several maritime provisions from H.R. 3116, the DHS authorization bill passed by the Full Committee last year and builds on the SAFE Port Act of 2006 (P.L. 109-347).  The legislation was introduced by Chairman Miller last week.

Miller said:  “Recognizing the growing threat to the global supply chain, I introduced this legislation to improve and update our laws governing our ports by enhancing security measures overseas before threats reach our shores, to foster a collaborative environment between Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard in sharing port security duties, and to leverage the maritime security work of our trusted allies. Our Nation’s maritime borders are equally as important as our southern and northern borders and each one is vital to our global commerce and our national security. In an era of tight budgetary times, we must ensure that we are making the best use of limited tax-payer dollars. My legislation seeks to guard against these threats in a risk-based, coordinated way that enhances the programs in place to protect our maritime borders.”

During consideration of the bill, the Subcommittee adopted three amendments, including:

·         A substitute amendment offered by Chairman Miller;

·         An amendment offered by Rep. Scott Rigell (R-VA) to develop international agreements with countries that have robust port data in order to allow DHS to more efficiently conduct port security by focusing money and resources on ports overseas that represent a high security risk and;

·         An amendment offered by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) to prohibit the U.S. Coast Guard from delegating vessel inspections to foreign based classification societies that also offer their services to countries that sponsor terror such as Iran, North Korea, North Sudan, and Syria.

H.R. 4251, as amended, will be sent to the Full Committee.

For more information on today’s markup, visit the Committee on Homeland Security website.

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