H.R. 3202, The Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act

H.R. 3202

The Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act

Sponsor
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee

Date
July 28, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Monday, July 28, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 3202, the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act, under suspension of the rules.  H.R. 3202 was introduced on September 27, 2013 by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and was referred to the House Homeland Security Committee.  The bill was marked up on June 11, 2014 and was ordered reported, as amended, by voice vote.[1]

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[1] House Committee Report 113-528.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3202 directs the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) to provide to Congress, within a year of the bill’s enactment, an assessment of the effectiveness of the maritime transportation security card program.[2]  Within 60 days of submitting the assessment to Congress, the Secretary must submit a corrective action plan responding to the assessment.  Within 120 days of its submission, the Comptroller General must give Congress an analysis of the corrective action plan.  Within 18 months of issuance of the corrective action plan, and every six months for the next three years, the Comptroller General must report to Congress on implementation of the corrective action plan.

H.R. 3202 prohibits the Secretary from issuing a final rule requiring the use of transportation security card readers until 1) the Comptroller General informs Congress that the corrective action plan is responsive to the Comptroller General’s recommendations; and 2) the Secretary issues an updated list of transportation security card readers that are compatible with active transportation security cards.  H.R. 3202 specifies that no additional funds are authorized to implement the bill.

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[2] If practicable, the assessment must be conducted by a national laboratory with expertise in maritime security that is within DHS’s laboratory network, or by a maritime security university-based center within DHS’s centers of excellence network.

Background

“The Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program was established by the Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 . . . to ensure secure access control to port facilities and vessels by capturing biometric information of all transportation workers with unescorted access to secure areas.  Currently, to obtain a TWIC card, an individual must pay $129.75, undergo a name-based security threat assessment, and submit his or her fingerprints for a criminal history records check.”[3]  Approximately 3 million maritime employees have a TWIC.[4]  Legislation enacted in 2006 “required [the Secretary] to complete a TWIC card reader pilot and issue a final rule for the deployment of TWIC card readers by April 13, 2009.”[3]  However, the biometric readers have not been deployed and the final rule has not been published.[5]  DHS’s failures on these fronts “has resulted in the TWIC card being little more than an expensive ‘flash pass.’”[6]

GAO has issued a number of reports on the TWIC program.  In its most recent report, “GAO strongly questioned how, if at all, the TWIC program improves maritime security and recommended a security assessment of the TWIC program be conducted.  GAO determined that the pilot data was incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable to inform a final rulemaking, and recommended Congress halt the card reader rule until a comprehensive effectiveness assessment of the TWIC program was completed.”[7]  H.R. 3202 requires such independent effectiveness assessment of the program to assist Congress in determining the program’s future.

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[2] Id. at 3.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.

Cost

According to CBO estimates, implementing H.R. 3202 would cost approximately $1.5 million in 2015.  The suspension text of the bill requires the use of existing funds.  The bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.