CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, June 26, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 3173, a bill to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to reform the process for the enrollment, activation, issuance, and renewal of a Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC), under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval. The bill was introduced on October 12, 2011, by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, which held a mark up and reported the bill by voice vote on June 15, 2012.
H.R. 3173 would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to revise the application process to require “not more than one in-person visit to a designated enrollment center except in cases in which there are extenuating circumstances…requiring more than one such in-person visit.”
The bill would also state that the programs should be reformed before the end of 2012 when many workers will have to renew their TWICs.
The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program was established to ensure all individuals who require admittance into secure areas of regulated maritime facilities and vessels are properly vetted and do not pose a threat to maritime and supply chain security.
According to House Report 112-523, the current program requires that applicants go to an enrollment center twice during the process of application. This requirement is not mandated by statute, but is rather an attempt by the Department to reflect the credentialing process for other federal civil servants. Furthermore, enrollment centers are sparsely distributed, requiring some workers to drive hundreds of miles round trip for an in-person visit. The Committee believes that this process is overly onerous for these maritime workers, many of whom cannot afford to “take extended periods of time off to go to an enrollment center” twice.
According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), current law directs the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to administer the program through fees collected from applicants. Assuming that TSA would revise the fee to reflect the new reforms, CBO estimates that any changes in spending will be insignificant. The change would affect direct spending, therefore PAYGO procedures apply.