House passes SMART port security bill

The House Homeland Security Committee recently approved a transportation security bill that would increase safety measures taken at ports and streamline the documentation of transportation workers.

The SMART Port Security Act was introduced by Representative Candice Miller (R-Mich.), the chairman of the subcommittee on border and maritime security, and is intended to bolster maritime security programs currently under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security.

"Securing our waterways is an essential component of a layered approach to security," Subcommittee Chairman Miller said. "A major disruption at one of the Nation's ports, especially a terrorist attack, is a high-consequence event that has the potential to cripple the global supply chain and could severely damage our economy."

The bill was amended to reduce redundancies by allowing DHS to recognize Trusted Shipper Programs located in other countries and by allowing the U.S. Coast Guard to recognize port security threat assessments by other governments and organizations.

Under the legislation, which next moves to the full House for consideration, the DHS must complete a detailed strategic plan for global supply chain security. The bill requires a more detailed plan than one previously discussed at the subcommittee level, with a focus on providing incentives for the private sector and measureable goals.

"This bill enhances risk-based security measures overseas before the threat reaches our shores, emphasizing a stronger collaborative environment between Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard in sharing port security duties, and leveraging the maritime security work of our trusted allies," Miller said.