President Bush on May 25 signed into law H.R. 2206, a compromise Iraqi war appropriations supplemental bill that includes $110 million in additional fiscal 2007 funding for the federal Port Security Grant program, which the American Association of Port Authorities
(AAPA) hailed as "a giant leap forward" to help U.S. ports secure their facilities against terrorism.
An earlier, vetoed supplemental bill contained $190 million for port security grants, while the latest, enacted version provides $110 million. When added to the already appropriated $210 million, that means $320 million will be made available for port security grants in fiscal 2007.
"An additional $110 million will go a long way toward helping our nation's ports further enhance security against terrorist acts," said Kurt Nagle
, AAPA's president and CEO. "AAPA has advocated for a $400 million annual appropriation for the Port Security Grant program since it began in 2003, and the additional $190 million would have brought us up to that level. Yet, given the fact that the approved supplemental contains less than half of the funding for homeland security programs as the vetoed supplemental, the retention of nearly 60 percent of the funding for port security shows it is a priority for both Congress and the President."
Nagle added that given the high costs of enhancing facility security at our nation's ports, AAPA will continue to advocate for the full $400 million appropriation in fiscal 2008.
"Ports still need federal support to help them focus on access control systems, personnel training, waterside security and interoperable communications, as well as the costly facility requirements related to implementing the new Transportation Worker Identification Credential," said Mr. Nagle. "The Port Security Grant program is an essential component for helping ports make and keep America's ports safe and secure."