Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security released the following statement in response to the announcement today, by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), that the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) renewal policy will be revised -- starting in August -- to provide a new less-costly and burdensome option for the Nation's transportation and port security workers:
"I am pleased that the Administration listened to my concerns about the impending TWIC renewal problem and developed a new option for port and transportation security workers who--starting this fall--will need to renew their expiring TWIC cards. While this solution does not fully address all my concerns, it allows TWIC-holders to renew their cards at a reduced rate and spares them the hassle of going to an enrollment center twice. These changes should help lessen the burden on our Nation's 2.1 million port and transportation security workers as DHS moves towards issuance of a final rule for biometric readers. I commend the Administration for these revisions and look forward to working together to fully implement this security program."
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 a TWIC. Under current law, starting this October, workers would be required to go through the time and expense of renewing their TWICs, even though, over the past five years, DHS has made little progress in establishing standards to deploy the biometric readers needed to properly read the TWICs.
According to the joint TSA-USCG announcement, U.S. Citizens who have a TWIC that expires before the end of 2014 will have the option of paying $60 to acquire a 3-year Extended Expiration Date (EED) card, instead of the standard 5-year TWIC card. Additionally, workers who opt for the EED will only have to take one trip to the enrollment center (to activate their card). Under the standard TWIC, workers have had to take time off from work to make two in-person trips to their enrollment center.
Earlier this month, the Committee on Homeland Security approved legislative language based on Ranking Member Thompson's "TWIC Program Act" (H.R. 1105) to relieve TWIC holders from securing renewals until June 2014 or the implementation of the final rule for the biometric readers, whichever is earlier, as a provision of H.R. 4251, the "SMART Port Security Act." H.R. 1105 was introduced in March of 2011.