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Port Security Measures Materialize, but More Should Follow

Today, Congressman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee of Homeland Security, issued the following statement regarding the passage of H.R. 4954, The Safe Port Act.

“I am glad the Homeland Security Committee could work together on a bipartisan basis on this legislation to secure our ports. But we can do better and America deserves more. There are gaps in our port security that leave the nation at risk to future attacks that this bill does not address. It saddens me that solutions to these gaps were rejected and, indeed, not even allowed a vote on the House floor,” said Rep. Thompson.

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Economic Security, Infrastructure Protection and Cybersecurity added: “Democrats have been laying the groundwork for the SAFE Port Act since the inception of the Department of Homeland Security, so I’m pleased to see that this issue is finally getting the attention it deserves. I applaud my colleagues for supporting the bill, despite the fact that it fails to include some critical amendments that would have made this good bill even better.”

Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA), a sponsor of this legislation stated: “Today represents the point where Congress starts taking port security seriously and begins addressing threats before they happen. We learned a lesson from Katrina. We didn’t plan before, we didn’t respond during and we are still struggling to recover now. A shut-down of West Coast ports would cost between $1 billion and $2 billion per day. This bill rightfully calls for protocols on the continuation of trade in the event of an attack on a U.S. port. Everyone has a stake in our country’s critical infrastructure and everyone depends on the commerce that comes through our ports.”

Congressman James Langevin (D-RI), Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on the Prevention of Nuclear and Biological Attacks added that: “Securing our seaports is crucial to protecting the American people. The SAFE Port Act will require DHS to create a comprehensive port security plan and authorize additional resources for ports. I look forward to working with my colleagues to further improve our security by more rapidly deploying radiation detectors at our ports and border crossings, but I believe this bipartisan measure is an important step in the right direction.”

Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA), the sponsor of the 100% scanning amendment stated: “Our current port security policy is like putting out a “Beware of Dog” sign, but never bothering to actually go out and get a dog. This port security bill has a fatal flaw, until we close this dangerous port security loophole, we are leaving the American people vulnerable to a nuclear attack on one of our cities or ports.”

Speaking of the debate on the House Floor, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), an original sponsor of port security legislation commented: “The bill we passed today is fine, but it offers nothing close to the policies we need to keep our ports and our country safe. We need to scan 100 percent of U.S.-bound hipping containers at their port of origin, and this bill doesn’t do that, opting instead for an honor system. When it comes to defending against catastrophic attack, halfway is not enough,” said Rep. Nadler.

Please contact Dena Graziano or Todd Levett at (202) 226-2616.

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS)

Rep. Bennie G. Thompson

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