Ms. HAHN. Mr. Speaker, the lessons of 9/11 have taught us that we must continuously be vigilant in proactively seeking out and preventing our country's most pressing threats. That is why after 9/11, Congress began to shine a spotlight on previously ignored issues such as border security, airport security and strengthening identification procedures. However, an area that continues to be ignored is port security.
In the U.S., tens of thousands of ships each year make over 50,000 calls on U.S. ports. These ships carry the bulk of the approximately two billion tons of freight, three billion tons of oil transports, and 134 million passengers by ferry each year.
The volume of traffic gives terrorists opportunities to smuggle themselves or their weapons into the United States with little risk of detection. According to a report by the Council on Foreign Relations, in May 2002 there were reports that twenty-five Islamist extremists entered the United States by hiding in shipping containers.
This highlights the need for an immediate legislative solution to counter this problem. However, it is difficult to come up with an effective solution without first knowing all of the potential dangers.
That is why I am reintroducing the Gauging American Port Security (GAPS) Act. The GAPS Act addresses these problems by requiring that the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General report to Congress on the current weaknesses and vulnerabilities of U.S. ports and ensures that DHS develops a comprehensive plan for addressing them. Only by focusing on the specific dangers that threaten our port security, can we develop effective solutions to ensure our nation is prepared for any and all types of attacks.