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Smith Lauds House Passage of SAFE Bill to Strengthen US Port Security

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Washington, May 4, 2006 | comments
U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Dean of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, praised House passage of HR 4954 – the Security and Accountability for Every Port (SAFE) Act. The bipartisan bill will strengthen security at America’s ports, helping to prevent terrorists from doing harm to our nation.
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U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Dean of the New Jersey Congressional Delegation, praised House passage of HR 4954 – the Security and Accountability for Every Port (SAFE) Act. The bipartisan bill will strengthen security at America’s ports, helping to prevent terrorists from doing harm to our nation. 

    "Ensuring the national security and safety of our citizens is the fundamental responsibility of government,” said Smith. “Strengthening port security is critical to winning the war on terror and securing the homeland."

    The “SAFE Port” Act provides a total of $2.4 billion in federal funding to enhance security at seaports nationwide, and requires the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to deploy nuclear and radiological detection systems at all domestic seaports. The bill also improves port security communication and information sharing at the federal, state, and local levels. The legislation also takes steps to enhance two important international screening programs: the Container Security Initiative (CSI), and the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) program. Finally, the bill will help track and protect shipments en route to the US by improving to high-risk cargo targeting and tracking systems. 

    “The SAFE Act uses a risk based strategy to maximize resources and strengthen security at our nation’s ports,” Smith said. “The horrific events on 9/11 showed us that we can never underestimate the will of those who want to do America harm. The SAFE Act will add another layer of security to a crucial entry point, making the terrorists’ evil agenda much more difficult to achieve.” 

    HR 4954, the SAFE Act will: 

    • Require the Department of Homeland Security to deploy nuclear and radiological inspection systems at 22 US ports by the end of FY2007 and to establish standard inspection procedures for shipping containers;
    • Provide $400 million per year in risk-based funding to strengthen port security to prevent terrorist attacks through a dedicated Port Security Grant Program to harden US ports against terrorist attacks;
    • Establish port security training and exercise programs to ensure that our nation’s first responders, longshoremen and port management possess the skills necessary to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from threatened or actual acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies;
    • Require the Department of Homeland Security to deploy nuclear and radiological detection systems at twenty-two seaports by the end of FY07, which will cover 98% of incoming maritime containers;
    • Enhance port security coordination between federal, state, local, and private sector partners by establishing an integrated network of virtual and physical command centers;
    • Authorize the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) at DHS to coordinate the Federal Government’s global nuclear detection architecture and carry out research and development;
    • Require DNDO to conduct operational testing of next-generation nuclear and radiological detection systems and a deployment timeline for completing installation of such equipment at all US seaports;
    • Re-establish Operation Safe Commerce, devoting $25 million per year to improve utilization of private sector initiatives, boost research and development activities, and enhance coordination within DHS;
    • Improve the International Trade Data System, which links all Federal commercial data to ensure more thorough security checks while providing the private sector with a single system to submit required information;
    • Strengthen the existing Container Security Initiative, which enables DHS to examine high-risk maritime cargo at foreign seaports, and requires DHS to conduct security assessments for foreign ports that seek to participate in the CSI program;
    • Require the Secretary of Homeland Security to refuse high risk cargo that the host nation refuses to inspect;
    • Requires DHS to continuously evaluate and report annually on emerging radiological detection and imaging technology for cargo and measure those new technologies against real world performance criteria. When effective new technology is identified, DHS is required to work in cooperation with the Department of State to, within six months, seek the cooperation of foreign governments to aggressively deploy that technology at overseas ports.
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