H.R. 710, Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act

H.R. 710

Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act

Sponsor
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee

Date
February 10, 2015 (114th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, February 10, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 710, the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 710 was introduced on February 4, 2015 by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security.

Bill Summary

H.R. 710 is identical to H.R. 3202, the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act, legislation that previously passed in the House on July 28, 2014 by a vote of 400-0.  (See Roll Call #456)

H.R. 710 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.   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. 710 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. 710 specifies that no additional funds are authorized to implement the bill.

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 $128.00, undergo a name-based security threat assessment, and submit his or her fingerprints for a criminal history records check.”[1]  Approximately 3 million maritime employees have a TWIC.[2]  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.[4]  DHS’s failures on these fronts “has resulted in the TWIC card being little more than an expensive ‘flash pass.’”[5]

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.”[6]  H.R. 3202 requires such independent effectiveness assessment of the program to assist Congress in determining the program’s future.

__________
[1] Id. at 3.
[2] Id.
[3] Id.
[4] Id.
[5] Id.
[6] Id.

Cost

According to CBO estimates conducted for identical legislation in the 113th Congress, implementing H.R. 710 would cost approximately $1.5 million in 2015, assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts.  The bill requires the use of existing funds to carry out its requirements.  The bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.

Additional Information

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