The American Association of Port Authorities
(AAPA) welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives' approval to increase by 14 percent the funding for the Port Security Grant program in fiscal year 2007. By a vote of 389 to 9, the House version of the FY'07 appropriations bill for the Department of Homeland Security would
provide $200 million in Port Security Grant program funds, compared to $150 million recommended by the House for FY'06.
While appreciative of House members for approving an increase in Port Security Grant funding for next year, Mr. Nagle said
the annual funding need is still twice what the House voted to provide. He followed by saying that AAPA member seaports are “extremely disappointed” that the Senate-House conference committee last night decided to cut all $648 million for port security, including an additional $227 million for this year’s Port Security Grant program, out of the FY'06 emergency supplemental appropriations bill. He said port security was considered a top priority by both the Administration and Congress during consideration of the P&O/DP World transaction, but they missed an opportunity to make a real difference on the issue.
Adoption of the new TWIC rules, once finalized, will create a standardized nationwide identification procedure for those needing unescorted access to secure areas of seaports and vessels. This includes truck drivers, longshore workers, port authority staff and contractors, and vessel and rail operators. While AAPA member ports have anxiously awaited rollout of this program ever since it was mandated in the 2002 Maritime Transportation Security Act, they are concerned about paying for TWIC implementation, which the Department of Homeland Security has estimated will cost between $299 million and $325 million.
In addition to more money for the Port Security Grant program, the House version of the FY'07 appropriations bill would also provide $139 million for the overseas Container Security Initiative (about $60 million less than authorized); $500 million for the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office ($36 million less than authorized); and $70.1 million (or nearly $5 million less than authorized) for the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, a voluntary program that offers expedited security processing for certain shippers.