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Providing for Consideration of H.R. 4954, Security and Accountability for Every Port Act

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of the rule providing for House consideration of the SAFE Port Act.

Mr. Speaker, none of us will ever forget what happened on September 11, 2001. Certainly in my district, there were well over 100 people were killed. My district is very close to the Port of New York and New Jersey, and many Members of this House suffered similarly on September 11.

When I was seeking the position of Homeland Security chairman last year, I made it a point to emphasize how important it was that we address the issue of port security. I am proud to say that prior to the whole Dubai Ports controversy, Chairman DAN LUNGREN, Congresswoman JANE HARMAN, Ranking Member SANCHEZ began work on this port security bill. So we were ready to move, and the Dubai Ports controversy gave us the window of opportunity to move forward.

As a result of that, with very close consultation and cooperation throughout this process, both at the subcommittee level and the full committee level, we have legislation which passed unanimously out of the subcommittee and then passed unanimously by a 29-0 vote last week out of the full committee.

In saying that, let me pay special thanks to the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Thompson, who, again, both he and his staff were exceptionally cooperative as this process went forward.

Now, we operated on the presumption that significant progress has been made in port security since September 11. However, we need to finish the job, to ensure that these programs and others provide a robust, risk-based system for securing our vital international supply chain through point of origin of goods until arrival here in U.S. seaports.

The SAFE Port Act addresses port security enhancements in three main areas: strengthening security measures at foreign ports and improving risk-based targeting of suspicious cargo; improving security of cargo in transit; and making much needed security upgrades at U.S. ports.

I must point out also, Mr. Speaker, the underlying bill includes an amendment offered in committee by the gentlewoman from Florida, Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite, which requires aggressive evaluation and deployment of the best available technology to screen incoming cargo. This amendment, offered by Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite, passed by a vote of 33-0.

Mr. Speaker, since 9/11, the House has repeatedly voted to support risk-based funding decisions with respect to Homeland Security. This legislation enhances this risk-based strategy that ensures our dollars are spent in areas that provide maximum security benefits.

I want to emphasize also how there was the spirit of cooperation at the subcommittee level, the committee level, and I think it is safe to say, in fact I would emphasize the fact that everyone on the Homeland Security Committee feels very, very strongly about protecting every American life by doing all we can to protect America's ports and indeed all of America from any future possible terrorist attack.

There can be differences about means. There can be differences about exactly how we achieve that. I feel very secure, very confident, very proud of the legislation that we passed. But it serves no purpose for anyone to be suggesting that there is anyone in the committee or House who is not absolutely dedicated to preserving every American life and doing all we can to enhance American security.

So I urge my colleagues to adopt this rule, reject any attempt to politicize the debate and move forward with this bipartisan bill.


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