Transportation Worker Identification Process Reform Act

Floor Speech

By:  Steve Scalise
Date: June 26, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SCALISE. I want to thank the gentleman from California for yielding. I also want to thank Chairman King of New York, as well as Ranking Member Thompson of Mississippi, for cosponsoring this commonsense legislation.

What we're trying to do is reform a process that was started back in 2006 that really has created a lot of complications for our transportation workers. What we're talking about is 2 million Americans not only across the country, but some who work around the globe that are required by Federal law to have these Transportation Worker Identification Credentials not only to perform their jobs, but even to get promoted.

So as these cards come up, whether you're applying for them for the first time or trying to get them renewed, you have to not only make one, but two in-person visits. When we talk about these visits, in many cases people have to take a day off of work for the first, and then another day off of work for the second visit because this is a card that they're required to have if they're going to be able to work in the transportation industry.

The rule that was put in place by TSA really is unworkable and doesn't really make sense, especially as we're talking about safety. It has nothing to do with safety. It's just a rule that they came up with that we recognize, number one, it's not in law, but it's something that we recognize, especially as we talk to our constituents who work in the transportation industry throughout the country, that this is creating tremendous burdens on our employees who have to actually miss work and miss pay that goes along with it.

So we're talking about something that affects people's jobs and their careers and, in fact, in some cases has limited their ability to get promotions.

I want to read parts of a letter that I received from Andrew Drury, who is an assistant cargo mate aboard the USS Mount Whitney. He's in the Merchant Marines, and this has been a problem to him. He wrote in to our office as he heard we were addressing this issue.

He's a graduate of the Citadel and is employed by Military Sealift Command, a company that is tasked with supplying the U.S. Navy with anything from bombs, bullets, fuel and provisions to our Armed Forces. He works throughout Europe and Africa. He writes to say: ``Due to my long tours of duty overseas,''--his TWIC card has since expired, and--``I am not allowed to advance in rank or position without the current TWIC credential.''

He goes on to write: this means that anybody who currently works overseas has to take time off from work and fly back to the States twice. This is very expensive, time consuming, stressful, and ``because I live on a ship that constantly moves around is logistically impossible. Sir, I am writing you in hope that there is something you could do for my fellow Merchant Mariners and me in this precarious situation.

So as we see that 2 million of our workers across the globe are facing this problem, this is a commonsense reform that actually puts some new reforms in place and puts some new rules in place that says you still make that first trip; but just like a passport, you shouldn't have to be required to take time off from work to go back a second time.

Again, I appreciate over 40 cosponsors in a bipartisan way that have signed onto this. I would urge approval of this legislation.


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