Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the legislation before us today to authorize the activities of the United States Coast Guard.
While I am dismayed that the measure does not include broader provisions to authorize the Coast Guard's important homeland security missions, I am pleased that it provides a much-needed and long overdue refinement to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program.
The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program, administered by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Coast Guard, is focused on protecting the Nation's maritime transportation facilities and vessels by requiring workers who need unescorted access to secure port facilities to obtain a biometric identification card.
Currently, workers must travel to TWIC enrollment centers to enroll in the program and then make a second trip to pick up and activate their approved TWICs.
This unnecessary process of requiring workers to make two trips to enrollment centers, which may be hundreds of miles from their home or workplace, has burdened American maritime and transportation workers since the program's inception in 2007.
The measure before us streamlines the program by requiring DHS to develop a process to mail TWICs to approved applicants rather than making workers return to an enrollment center to do so.
Unfortunately, however, this bill fails to fully address a number of maritime security provisions that passed in the House this Congress.
Nevertheless, on balance I support the legislation before us today and in particular the provision to streamline the TWIC process for American workers.
I urge Members to give it their support.