(WASHINGTON, D.C.) Sen. Murray announced that a House-Senate conference committee has approved a $29.35 billion supplemental appropriations bill that will fund port security efforts in Washington State and provide 2 new Coast Guard boats for the Puget Sound.

A member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Murray helped craft the bill, which had been held up for weeks by a Presidential veto threat over its size.

"I am pleased to announce this important funding for Washington state's ports and overall security," said Murray. "Washington state will benefit greatly from these investments, which will strengthen port security and provide two new Coast Guard boats to patrol our waters."

New Coast Guard Boats for Puget Sound

The bill provides funding for two new homeland security response boats for the Puget Sound, one that will be stationed in Bellingham and another in Port Angeles. These 87' harbor security vessels will help the Coast Guard conduct high interest vessel boardings and escort operations in the Puget Sound.

Port Security

At Sen. Murray's direction, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will benefit from a new $28 million port security effort. "Operation Safe Commerce," is a pilot program that will provide funding to America's three largest container ports to address the security vulnerabilities posed by more than 6 million intermodal containers that enter U.S. ports each year. The three ports take in half of all container cargo entering the U.S.

The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma comprise the third busiest container port in the country, after Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey.

Washington's ports will also benefit from a $125 million grant program to help ports nationwide to strengthen security. When Congress provided $93 million worth of port security grants last year, it was deluged by nearly $700 million in requests.

And in addition to direct port security grants, the bill includes $39 million for the Container Security Initiative to improve cargo and container inspections and at America's 20 busiest seaports. The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma will also benefit from these grants.

"It is impossible to overstate the economic damage that could be done if we are suddenly required to slow down the trade lanes into and out of our country because of security concerns," Murray said. "This initiative will demonstrate the art of the possible when it comes to improving the security of container shipping."