Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) announces the passage of H.R. 4954, the SAFE Port Act of 2006, 421-2. The Security and Accountability for Every (SAFE) Port Act is comprehensive legislation based upon a layered security strategy that builds on existing initiatives to improve port and cargo security. Congressman Poe spoke on the House floor today in favor of an amendment in the bill that directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to consult with federal, state, and local government officials, as well as port personnel, should a security incident occur.

As a Member of the Port Security Caucus, I rise in support of this amendment and the underlying bill. Representing the Port of Beaumont, which is a major supplier of military cargo to Iraq and Afghanistan, we need the local input on handling this unique cargo, said Poe. Our eyes have been opened to security lapses and potential threats in all our ports and the SAFE Port Act is a good step in seeing those threats addressed.

Overview of the SAFE Port Act of 2006:
  • Establishes in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a Director of Cargo Security Policy to coordinate DHS cargo security policies and programs with other executive agencies relating to cargo security
  • Establishes a port security grant program to allocate federal assistance to U.S. ports on the basis of risk and need. $400 million per year in risk-based funding will be provided through a dedicated Port Security Grant Program to harden U.S. ports against terrorist attacks.
  • Requires the Department of Homeland Security to deploy nuclear and radiological detection systems at twenty-two U.S. seaports by the end of FY07. This will cover 98% of incoming maritime containers.
  • Establishes the Container Security Initiative to identify and examine maritime containers that pose a risk for terrorism at foreign ports before they are shipped to the United States.
  • Establishes the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism to strengthen and improve the overall security of the international supply chain and U.S. border security.
  • Establishes minimum standards and verification procedures for securing containers in transit to an importer in the United States, including international standards for the security of containers moving through the international supply chain.
Earlier this year, Congressman Poe sponsored the Port Security Act of 2006. This legislation prohibits foreign, state-owned companies from controlling operations at US ports and mandates a Congressional review of all existing foreign state-owned companies operating in US ports. The two bills combined will allow for security not only on the cargo, but the handlers as well.

Congressman Poe is a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Waterways Subcommittee; International Relations Committee, Terrorism Subcommittee; and the Congressional Port Security Caucus.