News Releases

SAFE PORTS: What's Working and What's Not

Oct 16 2007

Senator Patty Murray, co-author of the landmark SAFE Ports Act, explores the progress of her legislation one year later

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement on the successes and failures she has seen one year after implementation of the SAFE Ports Act which she co-authored and introduced with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).

SUCCESSES 

"I am pleased that the Senate Homeland Security Committee is conducting a hearing today to study the progress and challenges of maritime security one year after the Senate passed the SAFE Ports Act, which originated as Sen. Collins and my GreenLane bill.  We know that this law has contributed to the improvement in maritime security. In fact, one month ago, the GAO reported that maritime security was the only one out of fourteen key Homeland Security mission areas in which the Department had made “substantial progress.”

"Earlier this year, the President signed the 9/11 Recommendations bill into law.  The law pushes the Department to fully implement 100% scanning of cargo containers, while also allowing the Secretary of Homeland Security the discretion to implement this requirement in the right way. 

"Major security improvements cannot be performed on the cheap, and this Administration has consistently short-changed the budget for port security.  As a result, Congress has had to make up the difference.  Earlier this year, I added $110 million for port security grants in the Supplemental Appropriations bill, which allowed the DHS to supplement its earlier grants and fund grants at previously-omitted ports.

"The Senate-passed Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill included the full $400 million in funding for port security grants as authorized in the SAFE Ports Act.  It also includes $60 million for interagency operations centers, which takes us closer to the goal in the SAFE Ports Act.  The Appropriations bill also funds the Intermodal Radiation Test Center at the Port of Tacoma, which allows the Department to test for radiation on railroad cars, which remains a critically missing part of radiation detection. 

CHALLENGES

"While SAFE Port has undoubtedly improved our nation’s security, the DHS must keep up the pace to implement several key provisions. 

"The Department continues to develop its policies regarding container security devices.  The SAFE Port Act and the 9/11 Recommendations Act both call upon the Department to step up its implementation, so that we will be able to track everywhere a cargo container has been after it is loaded at a foreign port and to know with certainty that the container has not been tampered with. 

"The Department continues its development of the Secure Freight Initiative at foreign ports.  The 9/11 Recommendations bill requires the Department to scan 100 percent of all cargo before it enters into the United States, and the lessons from the Secure Freight Initiative will be critical in order to implement this requirement in the right way. 

"We must continue to work with our ports, shippers and importers that legislation balance the security and trade that our nation and our economy depend on."