The American Association of Port Authorities
(AAPA) praised the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee for approving the FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations bill, which would result in a major boost in security funding for America’s seaports. As part of the bill, the committee approved an amendment, offered by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), which would provide an additional $648 million in resources for radiation portal monitors, container inspections, port inspections and port facility security grants.
“Securing America’s seaports, which are essential for the nation’s economic growth, vitality and way of life, must be a top national priority,” said AAPA President/CEO Kurt Nagle
. “This legislation, along with pending port and cargo security legislation in the House and Senate for future years, provides heightened focus on protecting the cargo, people and critical infrastructure of our ports that we as a nation depend on.”
In total, the Senate Appropriations’ supplemental bill allocates $106.5 billion in emergency funding, including $72 billion for the global war on terror and $27 billion for hurricane recovery efforts. Within the $648 million port security amendment to the bill, $227 million of additional funds are allocated to the federal Port Security Grant program, $211 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to purchase 60 more cargo container inspection systems, $23 million for CBP to hire 50 additional port inspectors, $23 million for the U.S. Coast Guard to triple the number of port security plan specialists, $32 million for CBP to hire 85 cargo container security specialists, and $132 million to place more than 300 additional radiation portal monitors in U.S. seaports to check cargo containers for carrying radioactive materials.
“Since 9/11, AAPA has recommended that the Administration and Congress provide $400 million a year to help America’s seaports harden their facilities against terrorism,” remarked Mr. Nagle. “The $227 million included in this bill, combined with the $175 million previously appropriated for FY 2006, offers the first opportunity to meet the funding level for which we’ve been advocating. It also promises to better ensure the security of maritime cargo, the people who work at our ports, and the communities around them.”
Nagle noted that, in addition to providing funds to protect port facilities, the emergency supplemental bill would provide money for CBP and the Coast Guard to more thoroughly scrutinize the cargo—both at home and abroad—that moves through our nation’s seaports. He also praised a pair of bills recently introduced in Congress that will enhance port and cargo security, and provide port security grant funding beyond the current fiscal year. The “GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act,” offered by Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on the Senate side
(S. 2459), and the “SAFE Port Act,” proposed by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) on the House side (H.R. 4954), both would fund the existing Port Security Grant program at $400 million a year in fiscal years 2007-2012, enhance high risk cargo targeting capabilities, establish container security standards, improve nuclear and radiological detection systems, authorize establishment of maritime security command centers, and have DHS develop protocols for resuming trade in the event of a terrorist incident.