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June 28, 2012

Port and Aviation Security Bills Pass House

(WASHINGTON) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed five Homeland Security bills. The legislation will help the Department of Homeland Security protect our nation's ports and foster better aviation security policy. Two of these bills were sponsored by Committee Democrats.

The "Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2011" (H.R. 1447) was sponsored by Committee on Homeland Security Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS). This bill would, for the first time, authorize the Aviation Security Advisory Committee (ASAC) in law and ensure that there is a forum for travel industry stakeholders to impact Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security regulations and policies. The bill directs the TSA Administrator to appoint the committee's members and establish three targeted working groups to address special security challenges in: air cargo, general aviation, and perimeter security.

The "Securing Maritime Activities through Risk–based Targeting for Port Security Act" (or SMART Port Security Act – H.R. 4251), includes legislative language based on Ranking Member Thompson's "TWIC Program Act" (H.R. 1105). At section 206, this comprehensive maritime would relieve the Nation's port and transportation workers from the requirement of renewing their 5-year TWIC cards, starting in October 2012, given that DHS has not implemented a biometric reader rule to ensure that workers who present these credential are matched with the cards.

The "Gauging American Port Security Act" (or GAPS Act – H.R. 4005), was sponsored by Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA). This bill directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study and report to Congress on gaps in port security in the United States and a plan to address them.

Congressman Thompson released the below statement supporting the bills: "As all of us have a stake in securing our Nation, my Aviation Security Advisory Committee bill will ensure that the stakeholders who are expected to comply with the policies and procedures developed by TSA have a seat at the table. Then we can be confident that TSA policies are both effective from a security standpoint and address the economic and commercial realities of our Nation's airports." "The SMART Port Act is rooted in not only the improvements to the TWIC program but also what it seeks to do to improve coordination and cooperation between DHS' maritime components and strengthen procurement practices. This bill is the result of bipartisan efforts to strengthen the security of America's ports and waterways and ensure the Department of Homeland Security's maritime security efforts are as effective and efficient as practicable." "Enactment of the GAPS Act will help ensure that our limited security resources can be targeted to those threats that put our ports at greatest risk. Our Nation's ports are as diverse as the people they serve and the importance of this infrastructure to the global supply chain cannot be overstated."

Full Statement Supporting the Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act

Full Statement Supporting the SMART Port Security Act

Full Statement Supports the GAPS Act

Floor Video

The five bills considered are H.R. 4251, H.R. 4005, H.R. 1447, H.R. 5843, H.R. 3173

The bills were debated on Tuesday.

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Media Contact: Adam Comis at (202) 225-9978