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Transportation Worker Identification Process Reform Act

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3173, and I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, this measure directs the Department of Homeland Security to reform the process for the enrollment, activation, issuance, and renewal of a Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC, to require not more than one in-person visit to an enrollment center to obtain a credential. I am proud to be an original cosponsor of this bill.

Since the inception of the TWIC program in 2007, mariners and other transportation workers have had to make at least two trips to a TWIC enrollment center to enroll and activate their cards. In contrast, other federally issued secure identity documents, such as passports and merchant mariner credentials, are mailed to the applicants. It is unreasonable to continue to require workers to take off from work to make a second trip to the nearest TWIC enrollment center, which in some cases is hundreds of miles away, to obtain their credential. The bill before us today would simply treat TWICs like those other federally issued identity documents.

In response to this legislation and concern expressed by worker representatives and Members of Congress, including me, the Obama administration recently announced a new option for port and transportation security workers who, starting this fall, will need to renew their expiring TWIC cards. Under this new option, TWIC holders may renew their cards for 3 years at a reduced rate of $60 and go to the enrollment center just once.

I'm pleased that the administration heard us on this issue because these changes should help lessen the burden of our Nation's 2.1 million port and transportation security workers, as DHS moves toward issuance of a final rule for biometric readers for the TWICs.

Despite these improvements, H.R. 3173 is still very necessary, as the recently announced option only applies to renewals, not first-time applicants, and there are no guarantees that it will remain in effect for the duration of the program.

Passage of H.R. 3173 will be an important step forward in reforming a cumbersome bureaucratic process and providing relief for the more than 2 million transportation workers.

I urge my colleagues to give H.R. 3173 their support, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, with more than 40 bipartisan cosponsors, passage of this measure will make a strong statement of support for reform of the TWIC issuance process and American workers. I compliment the gentleman from Louisiana for introducing this legislation.

I encourage passage of H.R. 3173, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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