KOHL SUPPORTS BILL TO OVERHAUL U.S. PORT SECURITY
Calls for Greater Focus on Homeland Security Needs
WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator Herb Kohl today voted to pass H.R. 4954, the Port Security Act, to bolster homeland security efforts surrounding ships and cargo. The bill invests more money and coordinates programs to improve cargo screening, hire more personnel to increase physical security at ports, require background checks for port workers, and expedite deployment of radiation detection equipment to prevent the smuggling of nuclear material into U.S. ports.
Kohl has consistently raised concerns with the Administration over the vulnerability of the country's shipping ports. He supported nearly doubling the funding devoted to port security in the FY2007 Department of Homeland Security budget, from $210 million to $400 million. In April, he and Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) added $648 million for port security programs to the FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriation Bill, which was subsequently blocked in conference by the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives. In February, Kohl called for the Senate's Homeland Security Appropriations panel to hold hearings on the deal to allow Dubai Ports World, a company based in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.), to operate six American ports.
"This bill represents a better and smarter approach toward port security. Today's passage of the port security bill demonstrates that we can work together to make America safer. This marks progress, but it is just one piece of much larger homeland security puzzle that we need to tackle," Kohl said.
Kohl said he is troubled that Congress and the Administration have failed to implement many of the changes suggested by the 9/11 Commission more than two years after their final report. Kohl said addressing the Commission's recommendations with regard to border security, aviation, rail and transit systems, nuclear power plants and chemical factories should be Congress' number one priority.
"It's been five years since the 9/11 attacks and sadly we still have much more to do to prevent a repeat of that catastrophe. Such a bleak assessment of what still needs to be done should gravely concern us. I urge my colleagues to continue working together to truly improve our homeland security," Kohl said.