Today, Congressman Adam Smith (D-Tacoma) submitted a statement for the Congressional Record with his support for H.R. 4954, the SAFE Port Act. The bill is a comprehensive, bi-partisan bill that will address one of the most significant challenges identified by the 9/11 Commission: an attack at our ports. As Smith said in his statement for the Floor, the legislation will “enhance our security, improve the efficiency of trade and provide necessary funding for the critical missions of our Coast Guard, Customs and Border Agents, and others involved in the maritime industry.”
In his statement, Smith acknowledges the importance of the ports in Washington State, particularly the Port of Tacoma. He notes that “it is the nation’s sixth largest port by cargo container volume, it handled over 2.1 million containers last year and continues to be a major economic engine in the South Sound region.”
Smith goes on to state that “the SAFE Port Act takes many critically important steps to prevent another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. This bill strengthens our domestic and international security efforts by making improvements to high-risk cargo targeting and tracking systems. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to deploy nuclear and radiological detection systems to our major ports by the end of next year. Ports will also have the much needed resources they need through the Port Security Grant Program to improve facility security.”
He also notes that “screening containers prior to its arrival at our U.S. ports is critical and I am pleased to see that the Department of Homeland Security is working to evaluate new radiological and other detection devices for use at foreign seaports. I believe these new technologies will arm our security officers with improved information and allow us to better protect our critical infrastructure. The bill also includes improvements to our international screening programs: the Container Security Initiative (CSI) and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT).”
The complete text of his statement is available on his Web site at http://www.house.gov/apps/list/hearing/wa09_smith/morenews/20060504fs.html
The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 421 – 2.