News Releases

Murray's Port Security Bill Goes to the President

Sep 29 2006

After 5 years, the GreenLane Act will finally be signed into law
Murray's tenacity pays off in legislation that will protect ports, secure cargo, and safeguard American lives and the U.S. economy

(Washington, D.C.) – Today the U.S. Congress passed landmark cargo security legislation authored by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that will dramatically improve the security of America's ports and cargo container system. A House-Senate conference report of Murray's bill passed both houses of Congress late this evening.

Murray was a member of the Conference Committee.



"This is a huge victory for our security, our economy and the American people. After five long years of work, my cargo security legislation is headed to the President's desk to be signed into law," Murray said. "This is a tribute to those who lost their lives on September 11th and a promise to the American people that we will do everything in our power to ensure that such a tragedy never happens again."



The bipartisan bill, which Murray wrote –

  • raises security standards for all cargo entering the U.S.,


  • creates a GreenLane to track and monitor cargo,


  • creates a system to resume trade after an incident,


  • and funds port security grants.




For Washington state, the bill will provide new security grants for Washington's ports, a new regional coordination center, new radiation detection equipment at the Port of Tacoma, new Customs personnel for Seattle/Tacoma, and a new system to keep Washington's trade-dependent economy moving.



"Today Congress made a commitment to securing our ports and keeping our citizens safe. The President must now honor that commitment – not only with a signature, but also with a budget that funds this mandate," Murray said. "Americans deserve more than words on a page – real security costs real dollars. I will continue to work as a member of both the Senate Budget and Appropriations committees to hold Congress to this promise."



Today's vote marks the culmination of a five-year effort by Senator Murray to implement cargo security measures at our nation's ports. Beginning after the attacks of September 11th with Murray's Operation Safe Commerce program to enhance port, cargo and supply chain security, Murray had been steadfast in her dedication to port security.



Specifically, Murray's legislation will:

  • Protect Americans by making our cargo and seaports more secure - mitigating a dangerous vulnerability.


  • Help prevent a lengthy shutdown of America's seaports in the event of an incident – protecting America's economy from severe disruption.


  • Provide layered security at every step of the supply chain while keeping it efficient.


  • Push the borders out so we can focus our limited resources on suspect cargo.




The bill improves security at America's ports by establishing:

  • The GreenLane, comprised of supply chain participants who voluntarily meet the highest level of security, allows our security services to better identify and respond to potential threats and provides real incentives to importers to enhance their supply chain security measures.


  • Minimum security standards for all cargo containers entering the U.S. and requirements that strengthen current cargo security programs.


  • The Office of Cargo Security Policy to ensure accountability and coordination of cargo security policies, procedures & regulations at the Department of Homeland Security and with other agencies.


  • Joint Operations Centers to ensure a coordinated, measured response and the resumption and flow of commerce in the event of an incident or heightened national security threat level.


  • The Act also authorizes port security grants, the Container Security Initiative and C-TPAT.




The Port Security Conference Report will now be sent to the President to be signed into law.



Senator Murray has worked on today's legislation since the attacks of September 11th. The following is a summary of her efforts leading up to today's passage:



TIMELINE





Post-September 11, 2001: Senator Murray begins talking to port security experts, industry and government officials regarding cargo security measures. Senator Murray holds three Senate hearings on cargo security: one in Washington, D.C. (3/21/02) and two in Seattle (4/4/02 and 7/1/02).



July 2002: Senator Murray writes and funds Operation Safe Commerce – the first research, development, testing and evaluation program to enhance port, cargo and supply chain security.



June 2003: Senator Murray wins a battle with the Bush Administration and succeeds in restoring funding for Operation Safe Commerce, which the Administration had tried to cut.



November 5, 2003: Senator Murray meets with shippers and officials from 8 ports to discuss cargo security measures.



December 9, 2003: Senator Murray visits the Ports of New York and New Jersey and meets with port officials, terminal operators, customers and law enforcement agencies to discuss what's needed to secure cargo while keeping it efficient.



January 30, 2004: Senator Murray writes to Admiral James Loy, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, asking why DHS is creating new, disjointed cargo security programs that are not based on the best practices. Murray calls for a coordinated, "large-scale, operational cargo security program."



February 2004: At three hearings, Senator Murray questions Bush Administration officials about the President's proposed cuts to cargo security programs. Murray questions OMB Director Josh Bolton and DHS Secretary Tom Ridge.



March 2004: Senator Murray is named “Person of the Year” by the American Association of Port Authorities for her work on Operation Safe Commerce, advancing maritime initiatives, holding hearings on cargo security, and boosting funding for the Coast Guard.



January 2005: Senator Murray begins meeting with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, including Secretary Ridge, Deputy Secretary Loy (Adm.), and Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Robert Bonner to discuss the progress of port, cargo and supply chain security programs.



February 2005: Senator Murray begins meeting with the Import/Shipping industry to discuss proposals to enhance port, cargo and supply chain security.



March 2005: Senator Murray begins meeting with labor officials regarding proposals to enhance port, cargo and supply chain security.



May 5, 2005: Senator Murray meets with Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chair, Senator Collins (R-ME) to discuss a proposal to enhance port, cargo and supply chain security.



June 2005: Senators Murray and Collins begin writing the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act.



July 7, 2005: Senator Murray outlines the principles behind the GreenLane bill to the Washington Council on International Trade.



November 15, 2005: Senator Murray introduces S. 2008, the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act, with Senators Collins, Coleman (R-MN) and Lieberman (D-CT). Senators Feinstein (D-CA), Snowe (R-ME) and DeWine (R-OH) are also co-sponsors.



March 14, 2006: Congressman Dan Lungren (R-CA) introduces H.R. 4954, the SAFE Ports Act of 2006 with 45 original co-sponsors, including Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-CA).



March 27, 2006: Senator Collins re-introduces the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act (S. 2459) with Senators Murray, Coleman and Lieberman, which was referred to the HSGAC.



March 28, 2006: House Committee on Homeland Security favorably reports H.R. 4954, the SAFE Ports Act, with amendments.



April 5, 2006: Senator Murray testifies on the GreenLane bill as it gets a hearing before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.



May 2, 2006: The Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs (HSGAC) favorably reports the GreenLane Maritime Cargo Security Act (S. 2459), with amendments.



May 4, 2006: The full House approves H.R. 4954, the SAFE Ports Act, by recorded vote of 421 – 2 (Roll no. 127).



July 26, 2006: HSGAC and Senate Commerce Committee issue compromise port security legislation.



July 27, 2006: Senator Murray speaks before the August recess, urging the full Senate to take up consideration of the GreenLane bill.



September 7, 2006: Senate HSGAC, Commerce and Finance Committees issue compromise port security legislation.



September 7, 2006: the Port Improvement Security Act of 2006, based on Senator Murray and Collins’ original GreenLane legislation, is introduced in the U.S. Senate.



September 12, 2006: Senator Murray secures a dedicated funding source for the GreenLane cargo security bill. The funding will stem from the extension of two existing customs fees.



September 14, 2006: Senator Murray's GreenLane Cargo Security legislation passes the full Senate by a vote of 98-0.



September 29, 2006: Conference Report of Senator Murray's GreenLane Cargo Security legislation passes both houses of Congress.