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Ryan Votes for Bill to Boost Port Security

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May 04, 2006 | Kate Matus ((202) 226-7326) | comments

WASHINGTON – Wisconsin’s First District Congressman Paul Ryan today voted for legislation to strengthen our nation’s port security system and make cargo more secure from the point of origin to its arrival in the United States.  This legislation, H.R. 4954 – the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act, passed the House with overwhelming support by a vote of 421-2.

“Earlier this year, the debate about who would be allowed to manage our nation’s ports drew attention to the serious need for better cargo screening and other remaining gaps in our port security system.  This legislation is a solid step forward that would help improve the security of shipments headed for our nation’s shores,” Ryan said.

The SAFE Port Act works to enhance security and protect cargo containers at every stage – from their point of origin, in transit, and at U.S. ports.

Among its provisions, the legislation:

  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deploy nuclear and radiological detection systems at twenty-two U.S. seaports by the end of Fiscal Year 2007, which will cover 98 percent of incoming maritime containers, and to establish standard operating procedures for examining containers.

  • Provides $400 million in risk-based funding through a dedicated Port Security Grant Program to harden U.S. ports against terrorist attacks and enhance capabilities to respond to attacks and resume operations.

  • Sets deadlines for DHS implementation of the Transportation Worker Information Credential program, a biometrically-enhanced identification card for access to secure U.S. seaport facilities.  In the interim, requires DHS to conduct terrorist watch-list and immigration status checks of all U.S. port employees with access to secure areas within 90 days of enactment.

  • Requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop standards for sealing containers en route to the United States within 180 days and implementation within two years.

  • Improves the Automated Targeting System (ATS), which is designed to identify high-risk containers before they reach American soil, by requiring DHS to collect additional cargo data from importers bringing material through U.S. ports.

  • Codifies the existing Container Security Initiative (CSI), which enables DHS to examine high-risk maritime cargo at foreign seaports, and requires DHS to conduct security assessments for foreign ports that seek to participate in the CSI program. The bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to refuse high-risk cargo that the host nation refuses to inspect.

  • Codifies and strengthens the existing Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program, which creates partnerships between DHS and the private sector to establish transparency in the supply chain, enhance security measures, and encourage information sharing.

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