Port Security

New Coast Guard Cutter CommissioningThe deadly attacks of September 11, 2001, brought into sharp focus the need to address the security needs of our state and our nation’s ports.  Our nation’s trading system helps the American people lower the costs of trade and create jobs.  But it wasbuilt for efficiency, not security.  It was designed for a world before September 11th.  

Washington state’s economic growth requires improving port security while maintaining the flow of commerce through our state’s many vital ports.  I understand this important balance and was a principal author of the SAFE Port Act.  This groundbreaking law enhances the security at our nation’s seaports through improved security infrastructure that “pushes out” our nation’s borders and supports added training and exercises for our critical first responders.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I work to ensure that key port security improvements in the SAFE Port Act are fully funded and implemented by the Department of Homeland Security.  As Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, I also work to fund and oversee important Department of Transportation port programs.

It is important to maintain the balance between securing our nation’s ports and ensuring the free flow of trade.  Programs such as the Port Security Grant Program, which provides U.S. ports with competitive security enhancement grants, help U.S. ports maintain this balance by providing grant funding for risk-based assessment and compliance with the SAFE Port Act. I am a leading voice in the Senate for maintaining a safe and secure flow of commerce through our state.


  • Providing critical funding for security needs in Washington state and across the nation.
  • Ensuring continuing safety and economic productivity of our nation’s ports.
  • Passing port security legislation to safeguard Washington's port communities, and protect Washington's trade-based economy.


  • Authored the landmark 2006 SAFE Port Act, which takes critical steps to secure our nation's ports and trade economy.
  • Secured hundreds of millions of dollars to implement the port security grant program authorized in her SAFE Port Act.
  • Created and funded Operation Safe Commerce – an early port security initiative – to study processes and technologies to improve port security.
  • Created the Intermodal Radiation Test Facility at the Port of Tacoma to study new nuclear detection technologies.
  • Named the American Association of Port Authorities 2004 Person of the Year in recognition of my work on security issues.