House Passes Homeland Security Legislation to Improve Maritime Security, Aviation Security and Grants Program

Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed important homeland security legislation to bolster maritime security, improve homeland security grants, and strengthen public-private aviation security partnerships.  H.R. 4251, H.R. 5843, H.R. 1447, H.R. 4005, and H.R. 3173, all within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Homeland Security, chaired by Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), have earned bipartisan support. 

Chairman King said: “With the passage of each of these bipartisan bills, the House has continued to improve homeland security and good governance.  The Nation’s ports are vital to the economy, and the legislation passed today will serve to strengthen port and maritime security, while making government more efficient for industry and workers.  Additionally, the measures approved today will allow State and local governments to make better use of their grant funding and will strengthen the cooperation between the aviation industry and the Federal government to improve security.  I urge the Senate to also pass these important, common-sense bills.”

H.R. 4251, The SMART Port Security Act, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security, 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, the legislation:

  • Reduces redundancies by allowing DHS to recognize other countries’ Trusted Shipper Programs, in addition to allowing the 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 Credential (TWIC) program to prompt DHS to install readers, improve efficiency for enrollees, and prevent unauthorized use; and
  • Requires 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 Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security and the Full Committee previously passed the bill by voice vote.

Subcommittee Chairman Miller said“The SMART Port Security Act will tangibly enhance the Nation’s maritime security.  While much of the discussion about border security is often focused on security threats at the southern and northern borders, both at and between the ports of entry, it is important to remember that we have a vast maritime border that also deserves our attention.  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.  We cannot afford to ignore threats to our Nation’s maritime security.

“To that end, the SMART Port Security Act enhances risk-based security measures overseas before the threat reaches our shores, emphasizes a stronger collaborative environment between CBP and USCG in sharing port security duties, and leverages the maritime security work of our trusted allies.  If we learned anything after 9/11, it is that we need to move from the need to know to the need to share.  Smart, cost effective choices have to be made that maximizes our resources while ensuring the security of our ports – and by extension, our way of life.  This bill is a step toward smarter security that encourages DHS to be more efficient, better integrated, and more closely coordinated amongst its components, industry, and international partners.”

The House passed H.R. 4251 by a vote of 402-21. 

H.R. 5843, introduced by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies, allows State and local governments and emergency management officials to use FEMA State Homeland Security Grant Program funds to contract with national laboratories to leverage the expertise of the labs for research and training purposes.  This bill was also included as a provision in H.R. 3116, the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of FY 2012, which passed the Full Committee in October.

Subcommittee Chairman Lungren said: "My bill makes available to cash-strapped state and local governments existing FEMA grant dollars for training of first responders and emergency personnel. With fewer grant dollars available, it is important that state and local governments use these funds to leverage the expertise at our National labs and research facilities for the greatest public benefit. I believe meeting the emergency needs of our communities is one of our most important responsibilities."

The House passed H.R. 5843 by voice vote.

The House also passed:

  • H.R. 4005, the Gauging American Port Security Act, introduced by Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study and report to Congress on gaps in port security in the U.S. and a plan to address them.  The Full Committee previously passed the bill by unanimous consent.  Today, the House passed the bill by a vote of 411-9.
  • H.R. 3173, introduced by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), directs the Homeland Security Secretary to reform the process for the enrollment, activation, issuance, and renewal of a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) to require not more than one in-person visit to a designated enrollment center.  The Full Committee previously passed the bill by unanimous consent.  Today, the House passed the bill by voice vote.

For more information on the legislation passed today, visit the Committee on Homeland Security website.

###