June 25, 2008
Lautenberg and Menendez introduce port security legislation
Senators Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) have introduced the Port Authority Implementation Act of 2008 (S.3174).
"It's been seven years since 9/11 and President Bush has still not secured our ports. Port security is essential to protect our residents from terrorist attack, and if this Administration won't adequately protect us, we will," Senator Lautenberg said, flanked by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Officials at a gathering to announce the bill. "This bill would pick up where the Bush Administration is leaving off by setting minimum security standards for every container coming into our country and helping ensure port security grants are awarded based on risk."
The bill is based in part on the December 2006 report of a PANYNJ task force that assessed port security and offered a number of recommendations.
"Because the stakes are so high and the margin of error is so low, we need to do everything in our power and spare no expense to keep our ports safe and prevent terrorists from destroying our commerce and disrupting our lives," said Senator Menendez. "This bill will fill critical gaps by enhancing and expanding our security efforts to bring even greater levels of scrutiny and accountability to port security."
Port Authority Chairman Tony Coscia said, "Federal efforts to secure the nation's transportation systems have not treated the security threat at our nation's ports with due seriousness. The Senators' bill, which builds on the recommendations of our Task Force, recognizes the critical importance of introducing uniform federal standards for all ports in the country. We thank Senator Lautenberg and Senator Menendez for their leadership and urge passage of this legislation to secure the nation's 361 port facilities."
The Senators' bill would require cargo be monitored from the moment it is packed into containers abroad until it reaches its destination in the United States. Containers that do not meet the standards would be refused entry into the country.
The bill also calls for minimum security standards for essential port services such as supply and launch vessels, and bunker and fuel deliveries, which are largely unregulated.
The bill comes after a hearing this month in the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security, which Lautenberg chairs.
During the hearing, Bush Administration officials admitted they would be unable to meet a 2012 deadline to scan all containers coming into America's ports.
Key provisions of the Port Authority Implementation Act of 2008 (S.3174) include: