Mr. MICA. Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.
The CHAIR. The Clerk will designate the amendment.
The text of the amendment is as follows:
Amendment No. 3 offered by Mr. Mica:
At the end of subtitle A of title II of the bill, add the following (with the correct sequential provision designations [replacing the numbers currently shown for such designations]) and conform the table of contents accordingly:
SEC. 214. KNOWN AIR TRAVELER CREDENTIAL.
(a) Establishment.--Section 44903(h) of title 49, United States Code, is amended--
(1) by redesignating paragraph (7) as paragraph (8); and
(2) by inserting after paragraph (6) the following:
``(7) KNOWN AIR TRAVELER CREDENTIAL.--Not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act, the Assistant Secretary shall--
``(A) establish a known air traveler credential that incorporates biometric identifier technology;
``(B) establish a process by which the credential will be used to verify the identity of known air travelers and allow them to bypass airport passenger and carry-on baggage screening;
``(C) establish procedures--
``(i) to ensure that only known air travelers are issued the known air traveler credential;
``(ii) to resolve failures to enroll, false matches, and false nonmatches relating to use of the known air traveler credential; and
``(iii) to invalidate any known air traveler credential that is lost, stolen, or no longer authorized for use;
``(D) begin issuance of the known air traveler credential to each known air traveler that applies for a credential; and
``(E) take such other actions with respect to the known air traveler credential as the Assistant Secretary considers appropriate.''.
(b) Known Air Traveler Defined.--Section 44903(h)(8) of such title (as redesignated by subsection (a) of this section) is amended--
(1) by redesignating subparagraph (F) as subparagraph (G); and [Page: H6199]
(2) by inserting after subparagraph (E) the following:
``(F) KNOWN AIR TRAVELER.--The term `known air traveler' means a United States citizen who--
``(i) has received a security clearance from the Federal Government;
``(ii) is a Federal Aviation Administration certificated pilot, flight crew member, or cabin crew member;
``(iii) is a Federal, State, local, tribal, or territorial government law enforcement officer not covered by paragraph (6);
``(iv) is a member of the armed forces (as defined by section 101 of title 10) who has received a security clearance from the Federal Government; or
``(v) the Assistant Secretary determines has appropriate security qualifications for inclusion under this subparagraph.''.
(c) Authorization of Appropriations.--There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the amendments made by this section.
The CHAIR. Pursuant to House Resolution 474, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Mica) and a Member opposed each will control 5 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Florida.
MODIFICATION TO AMENDMENT NO. 3 OFFERED BY MR.
Ms. CASTOR of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I'm pleased to offer an amendment that promotes economic growth and fairness.
My amendment eliminates redundant and expensive additional background checks that are making the Transportation Worker ID Card less effective and keeping qualified verified workers from jobs at our ports.
The Transportation Worker ID Card was designed to ensure that people working at our ports are not security risks. We now verify that port workers have not been involved in activities related to terrorism or other serious criminal activity.
The TWIC harmonizes port security across the Nation, so that any port authority in the country can be secure in the knowledge that job applicants have been examined by the TSA and deemed qualified and safe to access our ports.
While the Transportation Worker ID Card has standardized port security for the vast majority of States, in Florida a worker who holds that national TWIC card is still not allowed to access ports without additional background checks and additional fees under a parallel and duplicative State-run system. That's not fair.
A trucker delivering a load to a port in Georgia or South Carolina can simply present the TWIC card and make his or her delivery, as Congress intended when the TWIC program was designed. However, the same trucker in Florida will have to pay additional fees because the State refuses to recognize the TWIC as a sufficient security credential.
Florida is the only State in the country to require two security clearances to enter public seaports. These duplicative clearances not only defeat the purpose of having a Federal port security credential, but they put Florida's seaports, tenants, trucking companies and workers at a competitive disadvantage, and this is hurting Florida's economy. It's a terrible burden on business.
Now, in 2007, this Congress directed TSA to work with Florida to come to a mutually agreeable solution that would allow the TWIC to serve its purpose, but the ensuing years of negotiations led Florida to reaffirm this spring that it would not accept the national standard for port security but would continue to require expensive duplicative and unnecessary extra background checks.
The criminal background checks are almost identical. Both screen for crimes such as trafficking and narcotics, robbery and assault. Both agencies also have the ability to issue waivers to applicants when offenses are judged to represent no threat to port commerce or national security.
The price of the DHS TWIC port credential 5-year card is $132.50. And if you're in Florida, you have to pay an additional $100 to $130 for the Florida clearance for the same 5-year period. This additional financial and bureaucratic burden on Florida port businesses and workers is unnecessary.
The amendment I'm offering will restore a reasonable, rational, and cost-efficient maritime business environment. Duplicative and unnecessary costs erode the efforts to stimulate and grow Florida's economy and decrease the effectiveness of national standards put in place by Congress through the TWIC program.
Now, for those that might be concerned, if Florida can justify additional background checks with legitimate homeland security concerns, this amendment gives them the opportunity to do so, and the parallel program could be maintained. But if the duplicative and expensive background checks required by Florida are not making our ports safer, workers should not have to pay for them.
Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to adopt the amendment.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HASTINGS of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I'm prepared to yield back the balance of my time, and I do so.
The Acting CHAIR. The question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings).
The amendment was agreed to.
AMENDMENT NO. 6 OFFERED BY MR. LINCOLN-DIAZ BALART OF FLORIDA, AS MODIFIED
The Acting CHAIR. It is now in order to consider amendment No. 6 printed in House Report 111-127.
Mr. DENT. Mr. Chairman, I rise to claim the time in opposition to the amendment, although I am not opposed.
The CHAIR. Without objection, the gentleman from Pennsylvania is recognized for 5 minutes.
There was no objection.
Mr. DENT. While the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, TWIC, card was intended to be the one security credential required of port workers nationwide, some State governments could not wait for the Federal Government to establish its programs, and they moved forward with their own.
Currently, as has been stated, Florida is one State requiring a separate and, some argue, duplicative security background check and card for workers entering port facilities. While it's unfortunate that Florida port employees are required to pay for background checks twice, TSA cannot share the results of its background checks with Florida.
Florida State law allows for individuals to be disqualified even if they were found qualified by the TSA due to differences in disqualifying crimes. Perhaps a better amendment would have been to allow TSA to share the results of its TWIC background checks with Florida. I would suggest that as a better amendment than the one currently before us.
As written, this amendment would preempt Florida from continuing their security background check program, a program that the Florida State Legislature strongly supports. Additionally, some workers in port facilities receive criminal background checks, drug and alcohol testing, and credit checks as part of their screening process.
Many have distinguished this type of employment screening from the security-focused screening of the TWIC program. It is unclear if DHS would see the Waterfront Commission's background check as being preempted under this amendment because it is an employment-safety criminal background check, not a security background check.
While the amendment does allow a State to demonstrate a ``compelling homeland security reason'' that a separate background check is warranted, this places an extraordinary burden on a State legislature. State legislatures should have the right to determine what offenses qualify as disqualifying offenses in their ports, and this amendment would preempt that.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Ms. CASTOR of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I'd like to thank the chair of the committee, Mr. Thompson from Mississippi, for his leadership on this issue and the professional Homeland Security staff who are the committee supportive of the amendment.
I'd also submit, for the Record, letters of support from the Transportation Trades Department, the Florida Ports Council, Port Everglades, Port Manatee, Port of Miami, the Tampa Port Authority, and the Passenger Vessel Association.
I urge my colleagues to support the amendment and come down on the side of economic growth in a time of economic disaster; to come down on the side of the hardworking folks at our ports, to say that it's not fair in America that just because you live in one State, that you're going to be subjected to additional bureaucratic barriers to get to your job. I urge approval of the amendment.
Washington, DC, June 4, 2009.
Support the TSA Authorization Act and the Castor Amendment
Dear Representative: On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I urge you to support the Transportation Security Administration Authorization Act (H.R. 2200) which will make significant improvements to the security of our transportation network. I also urge you to vote for an amendment offered by Representative Castor which seeks to eliminate duplicative security credentials.
As we approach the 8th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on our country, we are reminded that much work remains to better secure our entire transportation system and to ensure that front-line workers are well-positioned to help address our security vulnerabilities. Toward this end, we applaud Chairman Bennie Thompson and the members of the Homeland Security Committee for reporting out legislation that will impose new security requirements and move to ensure that rules already on the
books are quickly implemented.
Specifically, we support the provision in the bill that will finally ensure that flight attendants receive the uniform and mandatory security training they need to respond to threats in the aircraft cabin. Despite claims by some in industry, the costs of this program are minimal--it would add five hours of training to pre-existing safety training and would only occur every other year. This provision is a significant compromise from the original multi-day proposal and we simply do not see how
industry can responsibly oppose it. The concept that workers themselves should have to pay for this mandatory training is ludicrous and we thank the Committee for rejecting this concept.
We also support the expanded training and support for the Federal Flight Deck Officer (FFDO) program. The bill provides that Federal Air Marshal Service field office facilities can be used for the FFDO activities. The section also allows for reimbursement of costs incurred by flight deck officers during requalification for this program, which is required to work as a flight deck officer. The bill also provides additional training for cargo pilots. For years, security regulations pertaining to
cargo operations have been inadequate and this mandate will take an important step to address this problem.
Section 206 mandates the issuance of security standards for foreign and domestic aircraft repair stations performing maintenance work on U.S. aircraft. The provision also mandates that security standards at foreign stations working on U.S. aircraft are comparable to the security standards for maintenance work done in this country. These regulations were originally
mandated by Congress in 2003 and were supposed to be finalized in August 2004. With over 70 percent of maintenance work now outsourced to domestic and foreign stations, security rules and the required inspections must be immediately implemented.
The TSA Authorization makes several urgently needed improvements to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program. Section 403 requires the Coast Guard to coordinate with owners and operators of port facilities and vessels to allow TWIC applicants to be escorted on port facilities by a TWIC holder. This will provide relief to workers who have waited up to several months in some cases to receive their credential. Many now are suffering severe financial harm because, through
no fault of their own, they cannot access their job sites. This section also reiterates the need for TSA to process applications in a timely manner by instructing TSA to respond to applicants within 30 days after receiving a completed application and creating a 30-day timeline for the review of requests for appeals and waivers. Additionally, this
provision addresses serious deficiencies in the TWIC distribution process by allowing credentials to be sent to a card holder's home and subsequently activated at a TWIC enrollment center. These changes are absolutely essential to the creation of a functional and trustworthy TWIC program that improves our nation's maritime and port security.
Rep. Castor's amendment would prohibit a state or local government from imposing a separate, additional security check for a purpose for which a federal transportation security card has already been issued. Workers, for example, who have already applied for and received a TWIC should not be subject to additional and duplicate security checks for entering a port or a maritime vessel. The purpose of the TWIC and other federal security checks was to create a uniform credential that minimizes costs
and creates one level of security. To allow states to impose their own security checks without any limitation would defeat one of the main goals of the TWIC and make it hard for workers and cargo to move from state to state. This is a modest prohibition and can be waived by DHS if a state can demonstrate compelling homeland security reason for imposing additional security checks.
Again, I urge you to vote for H.R. 2200 and for the Castor amendment.
FLORIDA PORTS COUNCIL,
Tallahassee, FL, June 4, 2009.
Hon. KATHY CASTOR,
U.S. Congresswoman--11th District,
Cannon HOB, Washington, DC.
DEAR CONGRESSWOMAN CASTOR: On behalf of Florida's fourteen deepwater seaports, I write to express our support for your amendment to H.R. 2200 concerning redundant criminal history checks.
As you know, Florida's seaports help to foster growth in trade and tourism. Our ports generate more than 350,550 jobs with an average wage of more than $48,000 per year--well above the Florida average wage of approximately $34,000. In addition, goods and services that move through Florida seaports generates more that $1.3 billion in state and local revenues. Thus, we are concerned with any unnecessary or redundant costs that impact our ability to stimulate and grow Florida's economy.
Florida has been a leader on seaport security since 2000. Florida's seaports have invested millions in infrastructure and security forces to ensure that our seaports are safe, and that passengers and cargo are protected. However, the State of Florida also has been slow to change unnecessary and duplicative seaport security requirements in light of the significant changes made by the federal government since 9/11. The Florida criminal history background check is a product of out-of-date analysis
and requirements. [Page: H6204]
We believe that the threat assessment conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) under the Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) provides a significant level of protection for the country--including Floridians and visitors to Florida. This TSA threat assessment, coupled with the significant investment by Florida's seaports in infrastructure and operational security provides a level of safety and security in Florida second to none.
The redundant criminal history background check has been the law in Florida for over nine (9) years, and has become unnecessary and redundant now that the federal TSA threat assessment is in place and operational. We do not believe that an additional criminal history check provides any additional safety in Florida. However, if the FDLE can provide some compelling reason to continue requiring a second check, your amendment does allow the State of Florida to request a waiver and continue requiring
a second check.
Again, thank you for your leadership on this issue, and for offering this business-friendly amendment. We appreciate your efforts to ensure that Florida's seaport have to ability to stimulate and grow Florida's economy.
Michael L. Rubin,
BROWARD COUNTY FLORIDA,
Fort Lauderdale, FL, June 4, 2009.
DEAR MR. PHILLIPS: On our behalf, please sincerely thank Congresswoman Castor for her amendment to prohibit redundant background checks for any purpose for which a transportation security card (TWIC) is issued.
Port Everglades and all of Florida's seaports have invested millions in infrastructure and security forces to ensure that our seaports are safe, and that passengers and cargo are protected. We believe that the threat assessment conducted by the TSA under the TWIC program provides a significant level of protections for the country--including Floridians and visitors to Florida. This TSA threat assessment, coupled with the investment by Florida's seaports in infrastructure and operations security
provides a level of security in Florida second to none.
The redundant background check in Florida has been in Florida law for over nine (9) years. It has become unnecessary now that the federal TWIC process is in place. We do not believe that this redundant check provides for any additional security. However, if the FDLE can provide some compelling reason to continue requiring a second check of port workers, then Congresswoman Castor's amendment does allow the State of Florida to request a waiver and continue requiring a second check.
This issue is eroding efforts to stimulate and grow Florida's economy as the duplicative and unnecessary costs affect the competitive balance between Florida and other Southeastern ports as the additional cost to Florida port employers and port workers is significant. We appreciate Congresswoman Castor's attention to this issue and her business-friendly amendment.
Phillip C. Allen,
Hon. Kathy Castor,
House of Representatives,
Dear Congresswoman Castor: I'm writing to make you aware of Port Manatee's support of your amendment to H.R. 2200, which prohibits states from requiring separate security background checks for access to the nation's seaports.
This important legislation eliminates a competitive disadvantage suffered by all Florida ports when competing for business with ports from other states. The Sunshine State is the only state in the Union requiring both federal and state background checks for Transportation Worker Identification Credentials and Florida port access identification cards.
Please contact me directly if I may be of further assistance regarding this matter and thank you for your continued leadership with regard to Florida's seaport system and in particular, all that you do to make Port Manatee successful.
David L. McDonald,
Dear Congresswoman Castor: Thank you for your sponsorship of the amendment to H.R. 2200 which prohibits states from requiring separate security background checks for access to seaports. Florida's duplicative system places the state at a competitive disadvantage by increasing the cost of doing business at our public seaports.
Thank you for your leadership on this important issue for the Port of Miami.
Manager, Intergovernmental Affairs,
Port of Miami.
TAMPA PORT AUTHORITY,
Tampa, FL, June 4, 2009.
Re: Amendment to H.R. 2200--Redundant Background Checks
Hon. KATHY CASTOR,
Cannon House Office Building,
DEAR REPRESENTATIVE CASTOR: The Tampa Port Authority supports the amendment to H.R. 2200 that you have offered to prohibit a State or political subdivision thereof from requiring a separate security background check for any purpose for which a Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) card is issued under section 403 of the bill. Only one security background check and one transportation security card should be required for entry into Florida ports. Redundant security background
and transportation security cards do not enhance security at Florida ports and may place Florida ports at a competitive economic disadvantage with other deepwater ports across the United States. Consequently, we support the proposed legislation.
Richard A. Wainio,
Port Director and CEO.
PASSENGER VESSEL ASSOCIATION,
Alexandria, VA, May 29, 2009.
Hon. KATHY CASTOR,
House of Representatives,
DEAR CONGRESSWOMAN CASTOR: The Passenger Vessel Association (PVA)--the national trade association for owners and operators of U.S.-flagged passenger vessel operators of all types--commends you for your intended amendment to the TSA authorization legislation (H.R. 2200) to prohibit a state from requiring security background checks for maritime workers that duplicate those already performed by the federal government.
PVA has numerous members throughout Florida and in the Tampa area whose crew members have to obtain the expensive federal Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWIC). A prerequisite for obtaining a TWIC is a successful background check of an individual's criminal record and status on the terrorist watch list.
Requiring a TWIC for certain individuals that work on a dinner cruise, harbor excursion, or sightseeing vessel is burdensome and expensive enough. However, PVA's Florida operators have also had to contend with the duplicative state-mandated FUPAC credential. What additional value does this state requirement provide?
On behalf of our Florida members, including former PVA President Troy Manthey of Yacht Starship Dining Cruises of Tampa, thank you for your advocacy of your amendment. Please let us know how we can assist it in its passage.
Edmund B. Welch,
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. LYNCH. Madam Chair, for the purpose of closing, I would like to yield the balance of my time to the gentlewoman from New York (Mrs. Maloney) who, along with Congressman Hoyer, has championed this bill for the past 15 years.
The CHAIR. The gentlewoman from New York is recognized for 30 seconds.