Today, during consideration of a maritime security bill, the Committee on Homeland Security approved legislative language offered by Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), modeled after H.R. 1105, the "TWIC Program Act," to provide an extension of the validity of Transportation Worker Identification Credentials (TWICs). The language was included as section 206 of the "Securing Maritime Activities through Risk-based Targeting for Port Security Act" or "SMART Port Security Act" (H.R. 4251).
Over the past five years, roughly 2.1 million longshoremen, truckers, merchant mariners, and rail and vessel crew members have undergone extensive background checks and paid a $132.50 fee to obtain these cards. Unless Congress or the Administration acts, starting this October, workers would be required to go through the time and expense of renewing their TWICs. Compelling hardworking Americans to undertake the expense and hassle of renewing their cards is not justifiable given that the basic requirements for biometric readers to match these cards with the cardholders have not been issue by the Department of Homeland Security.
Congressman Thompson released the following statement after the Committee adopted the legislation:
"I am very pleased that the bipartisan bill passed today includes language based on legislation that I authored to relieve port and transportation workers from having to renew their TWICs starting this fall. Without DHS holding up its end of the bargain by deploying the readers, TWICs will essentially remain expensive "flash-passes' and a vital security vulnerability will remain exposed. The strong unanimous message that the Committee on Homeland Security put out today will certainly boost the efforts by me and others to get relief for workers and keep pressure on the Department to issue the reader rule as soon as possible."