Congress Members Float New Bill for Strengthening Port Security

A representative from California and a senator from Maine have joined together to promote funding for port security. Representative Jane Harman (D-Calif.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the Homeland Security Committee, and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, announced recently that the two have joined together to introduce a piece of legislation that would authorize the DHS to create a grant program focused on port security.

Harman and Collin's bill is modeled after a bill that Rep. Harman co-authored with former California Republican Representative Doug Ose during the 108th Congress.

"Until we get more aggressive about port security, our ports will remain vulnerable to terrorist attacks or infiltration," Harman said in a prepared statement. "This legislation will help identify where the biggest vulnerabilities are and target existing funds to those areas."

Collins has said that port security still has not received needed attention and funding.

According to a statement made by the bill's supporters, no dedicated funding for port security has been earmarked, a move that Collins called "unacceptable" and part of the "hand-to-mouth" cycle that ports have faced for years."

The proposed legislation would mark $400 million per year for six years starting in 2007. Funding for the grants would come from duties collected by the Customs agency. The bill would also authorize DHS to conduct vulnerability assessments to take into account which ports are most at risk and how they should be funded.

One of the goals of the bill is the implementation of the Maritime Transportation Security Act.