AAPA Welcomes House Vote To Increase FY '07 Port Security Grant Program Funding
Ports Criticize Decision To Cut Port Security Funding in FY‘06 Emergency Supplemental Bill
ALEXANDRIA, VA (Wednesday, June 7, 2006) – The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) today welcomed the U.S. House of Representatives' approval yesterday 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.
"AAPA is pleased the House recognizes the need of U.S. ports to have a greater financial partnership with the federal government in paying for critical seaport security measures, such as state-of-the-art surveillance technology and protections against things like vehicle-borne improvised explosion devices at our nation's ports," said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO.
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.
"An annual appropriation of $400 million for the Port Security Grant program is crucial, and the additional money proposed in the Senate version of the FY'06 emergency appropriations spending bill would have brought it up to that level for the first time," said Mr. Nagle. "Considering the high cost of implementing port security, including the new Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) system announced last month, ports more than ever need a greater federal partnership in their efforts to harden their facilities against terrorism."
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.
"It's important that the next annual spending bill provide the full $400 million for the Port Security Grant program to help ports pay to install TWIC card readers and associated expenses at their facilities," remarked Mr. Nagle. "AAPA will continue to work with the Senate to achieve this funding level, which is the level identified in both the Greenlane Maritime Cargo Security Act and the SAFE Ports Act bills now pending in Congress."
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.