ESSENTIAL TRANSPORTATION WORKER IDENTIFICATION CREDENTIAL ASSESSMENT ACT
(House of Representatives - July 28, 2014)

Text available as:

Formatting necessary for an accurate reading of this text may be shown by tags (e.g., <DELETED> or <BOLD>) or may be missing from this TXT display. For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Pages H6895-H6899]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




 ESSENTIAL TRANSPORTATION WORKER IDENTIFICATION CREDENTIAL ASSESSMENT 
                                  ACT

  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 3202) to require the Secretary of Homeland Security 
to prepare a comprehensive security assessment of the transportation 
security card program, and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 3202

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Essential Transportation 
     Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act''.

     SEC. 2. COMPREHENSIVE SECURITY ASSESSMENT OF THE 
                   TRANSPORTATION SECURITY CARD PROGRAM.

       (a) In General.--Not later than one year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security 
     shall submit to the Committee on Homeland Security and the 
     Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House 
     of Representatives, the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
     Transportation of the Senate, and the Comptroller General of 
     the United States a comprehensive assessment of the 
     effectiveness of the transportation security card program 
     under section 70105 of title 46, United States Code, at 
     enhancing security and reducing security risks for facilities 
     and vessels regulated pursuant to section 102 of Public Law 
     107-295. Such assessment shall be conducted by a national 
     laboratory that, to the extent practicable, is within the 
     Department of Homeland Security laboratory network with 
     expertise in maritime security or by a maritime security 
     university-based center within the Department of Homeland 
     Security centers of excellence network.
       (b) Contents.--The comprehensive assessment shall include--
       (1) an evaluation of the extent to which the program, as 
     implemented, addresses known or likely security risks in the 
     maritime environment;
       (2) an evaluation of the extent to which deficiencies 
     identified by the Comptroller General have been addressed; 
     and
       (3) a cost-benefit analysis of the program, as implemented.
       (c) Corrective Action Plan; Program Reforms.--Not later 
     than 60 days after the Secretary submits the assessment under 
     subsection (a), the Secretary shall submit a corrective 
     action plan to the Committee on Homeland Security and the 
     Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House 
     of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, 
     and Transportation of the Senate that responds to the 
     assessment under subsection (b). The corrective action plan 
     shall include an implementation plan with benchmarks, may 
     include programmatic reforms, revisions to regulations, or 
     proposals for legislation, and shall be considered in any 
     rule making by the Department relating to the transportation 
     security card program.
       (d) Comptroller General Review.--Not later than 120 days 
     after the Secretary issues the corrective action plan under 
     subsection (c), the Comptroller General shall--
       (1) review the extent to which such plan implements--
       (A) recommendations issued by the national laboratory or 
     maritime security university-based center, as applicable, in 
     the assessment submitted under subsection (a); and
       (B) recommendations issued by the Comptroller General 
     before the enactment of this Act; and
       (2) inform the Committee on Homeland Security and the 
     Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House 
     of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, 
     and Transportation of the Senate as to the responsiveness of 
     such plan to such recommendations.
       (e) Transportation Security Card Reader Rule.--
       (1) In general.--The Secretary of Homeland Security may not 
     issue a final rule requiring the use of transportation 
     security card readers until--
       (A) the Comptroller General informs the Committees on 
     Homeland Security and the Committee on Transportation and 
     Infrastructure of the House of Representatives and Commerce, 
     Science and Transportation of the Senate that the submission 
     under subsection (a) is responsive to the recommendations of 
     the Comptroller General; and
       (B) the Secretary issues an updated list of transportation 
     security card readers that are compatible with active 
     transportation security cards.
       (2) Limitation on application.--Paragraph (1) shall not 
     apply with respect to any final rule issued pursuant to the 
     notice of proposed rulemaking on Transportation Worker 
     Identification Credential (TWIC)-Reader Requirements 
     published by the Coast Guard on March 22, 2013 (78 Fed. Reg. 
     17781)
       (f) Comptroller General Oversight.--Not less than 18 months 
     after the date of the issuance of the corrective action plan 
     under subsection (c), and every six months thereafter during 
     the 3-year period following the date of the issuance of the 
     first report under this subsection, the Comptroller General 
     shall report to the Committee on Homeland Security and the 
     Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the House 
     of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, 
     and Transportation of the Senate regarding implementation of 
     the corrective action plan.

     SEC. 3. NO ADDITIONAL FUNDS AUTHORIZED.

       No additional funds are authorized to be appropriated to 
     carry out this Act and the amendments made by this Act, and 
     this Act and such amendments shall be carried out using 
     amounts otherwise available for such purpose.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Byrne). Pursuant to the rule, the 
gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller) and the gentlewoman from Texas 
(Ms. Jackson Lee) each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Michigan.


                             General Leave

  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that

[[Page H6896]]

all Members have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include any extraneous material on the bill under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Michigan?
  There was no objection.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. I yield myself as much time as I may 
consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in very strong support of H.R. 3202, which is 
called the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
Assessment Act, commonly referred to as TWIC, which I will now call 
TWIC. That is a mouthful.
  First, I would certainly like to thank the gentlewoman from Texas 
(Ms. Jackson Lee) for introducing this very thoughtful legislation. She 
has really worked very diligently on this in a very bipartisan way. We 
have worked together to move this legislation through our subcommittee 
and through the full Committee on Homeland Security.

                              {time}  1600

  This bill will really help Congress determine the value of the TWIC 
program and simultaneously allow the department to proceed apace with 
finalizing the long-awaited card reader rule.
  I mentioned I am a cosponsor of this bill because it really responds 
to key recommendations of the GAO that the TWIC program should have a 
baseline security assessment before the program moves forward.
  As many of my colleagues with ports in their districts know, TWIC is 
a port security program that has been wrought with constant delays and 
questions about its overall security value.
  Last year, the Border and Maritime Subcommittee that I am honored to 
chair held a hearing with the Coast Guard, with the TSA, and with the 
GAO on the TWIC program and the ongoing concerns that we have with it, 
and this legislation, Mr. Speaker, is really a result of that 
oversight.
  Now, it may be hard to believe, but more than a decade after the 
legislation that required TWIC was first enacted, there has been no 
security or effectiveness assessment of the program to assess the 
underlying assumptions of the security and access control concerns that 
the card was intended to mitigate.
  This bill seeks to answer the simple question: How, if at all, does 
TWIC improve maritime security? It should have been one of the very 
first things that the department did when it began to implement this 
program, and this bill ensures that it finally gets done.
  The TWIC card was initially designed to prevent terrorists from 
gaining access to sensitive parts of our Nation's ports through the use 
of biometric-enabled credentials. However, with no biometric reader 
regulations in place, the TWIC card currently is used really as a flash 
pass, since most facilities and vessels are neither currently required 
to nor voluntarily utilize biometric readers. The lack of biometric 
readers, therefore, limits the effectiveness of this program.
  For several years, members of the Homeland Security Committee have 
been calling on the department to release the card reader rule to 
provide some certainty to workers and to industry. We finally received 
the notice of proposed rulemaking over a year ago, which would require 
TWIC readers to be used at the riskiest 5 percent of all the TWIC-
regulated vessels and facilities, and this comes, Mr. Speaker, nearly 6 
years after workers were first required to pay for and to obtain a TWIC 
card.
  The delays are so significant that workers have already had to renew 
their biometric credentials in the time that it has taken to issue 
regulations on credential readers to actually utilize this biometric-
enabled technology.
  While we certainly all agree that there is huge room for improvement 
with the TWIC program, putting it on hold for several more years, we 
think, would do more harm than good. The business community has been 
preparing for this TWIC rule for several years.
  This bill will give them certainty about the requirements of the 
program. It also allows the Coast Guard and the TSA to continue their 
efforts to deliver the port security program that Congress enacted 
several years ago.
  Finally, H.R. 3202 requires the GAO to perform consistent reviews of 
the TWIC program and to follow the changes the department makes as a 
result of the required assessment. This added level of review will 
provide Congress, especially the members of our committee, with 
progress updates for future legislative action.
  The proposed rule and open GAO recommendations lead to some very 
basic questions about mitigating threats, risk, and vulnerability at 
our Nation's ports and how the TWIC program should be used effectively 
to prevent a potential terrorist attack. We certainly have an 
obligation to get this right.
  Mr. Speaker, I would urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3202, and I 
reserve the balance of my time.

         Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, House of 
           Representatives,
                                     Washington, DC, July 8, 2014.
     Hon. Michael T. McCaul,
     Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. Chairman: I write concerning H.R. 3202, the 
     Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
     Assessment Act, as ordered reported, with amendment, by the 
     Committee on Homeland Security on June 11, 2014. This 
     legislation includes matters that fall within the Rule X 
     jurisdiction of the Committee on Transportation and 
     Infrastructure.
       In order to expedite floor consideration of H.R. 3202, the 
     Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure will forgo 
     action on this bill. However, this is conditional on our 
     mutual understanding that forgoing consideration of the bill 
     does not prejudice the Committee with respect to the 
     appointment of conferees or to any future jurisdictional 
     claim over the subject matters contained in the bill or 
     similar legislation that fall within the Committee's Rule X 
     jurisdiction. I request you urge the Speaker to name members 
     of the Committee to any conference committee named to 
     consider such provisions.
       Please place a copy of this letter and your response 
     acknowledging our jurisdictional interest into the committee 
     report on H.R. 3202 and into the Congressional Record during 
     consideration of the measure on the House floor.
           Sincerely,
                                                     Bill Shuster,
      Chairman.
                                  ____

                                         House of Representatives,


                               Committee on Homeland Security,

                                     Washington, DC, July 8, 2014.
     Hon. Bill Shuster,
     Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
         Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Shuster: Thank you for your letter regarding 
     the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure's 
     jurisdictional interest in H.R. 3202, the ``Essential 
     Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment 
     Act.''
       I agree that the Committee on Transportation and 
     Infrastructure has a jurisdictional interest in the United 
     States Coast Guard, and that the Committee's jurisdiction 
     will not be adversely affected by your decision to forego 
     consideration of H.R. 3202. Additionally, I will support your 
     request for an appropriate appointment of outside conferees 
     from your Committee in the event of a House-Senate conference 
     on this or similar legislation, should such a conference be 
     convened.
       Finally, I will include a copy of your letter and this 
     response in the report accompanying H.R. 3202 and in the 
     Congressional Record during consideration of this bill on the 
     Floor. Thank you again for your cooperation.
           Sincerely,
                                                Michael T. McCaul,
                                                         Chairman.

  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3202, 
the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
Assessment Act and yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, again, I rise in strong support of my bill, H.R. 3202, 
the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
Assessment Act and, again, want to offer my appreciation to Chairwoman 
Miller of the committee, that I am the ranking member of, for her 
collaboration, cooperation, and commitment to America's security and 
working together in a bipartisan manner not only at the subcommittee 
level, but at the full committee level.
  Again, thanking Mr. McCaul, the chairman of the full committee, and 
Mr. Thompson, the ranking member of the full committee, I would offer 
to say that Homeland Security has put national security first beyond 
any of our partisan desires, so I am grateful for that as we move this 
legislation forward.

[[Page H6897]]

  I would like to think that both Chairwoman Miller and myself believe 
that there is a value to the TWIC card. Even this weekend, as I was in 
my district canvassing an area about crime issues, a gentleman came out 
and said: I have a house here, I am training individuals how to apply 
for the TWIC card.
  I couldn't believe it. In a neighborhood, there was someone who was 
trying to get resources to train people to get a TWIC card because they 
knew how valuable it was if you want to work in the Nation's ports.
  It is valuable, but I want to acknowledge the card reader pilot 
results are unreliable, and security benefits need to be reassessed. 
This was done by the GAO in May 2013. I would just like to read these 
words from what the GAO recommended:
  Congress should halt DHS' efforts to promulgate a final regulation 
until the successful completion of a security assessment of the 
effectiveness of using TWIC.
  Here is an issue where Congress rose to the occasion, and this is 
this legislation, to be able to respond to make something better. When 
Congress enacted the SAFE Port Act in 2006, we directed the Secretary 
of Homeland Security to implement a biometric credential program to 
ensure that individuals with unescorted access to sensitive areas of 
ports and vessels were vetted and known.
  I think there is enough evidence for us to know that terror can come 
in many forms, and we know that by some of the terrible incidents that 
have occurred--the incident in Yemen where one of our ships was 
attacked--so we know how difficult securing these large areas and 
vessels are.
  However, we learned that, as implemented by TSA and the Coast Guard, 
there are weaknesses in the program. Indeed, the Government 
Accountability Office has identified serious shortcomings with the TWIC 
program, as implemented, that may undermine the program's intended 
purpose and make it difficult to justify costs, particularly the costs 
to workers.
  I want to emphasize workers because when we first began this program, 
there were a number of us on the committee who wanted to do several 
things, wanted to provide more centers where TWIC cards could be 
accessible because many of the longshoremen and other workers were 
finding it difficult in their schedule to be able to secure one.
  I secured a TWIC card to be able to determine how the process works. 
The biometrics issue came out from the 9/11 reports. It was suggested 
that biometrics would be the way to go, and so the TWIC card was 
designed that way, to deal with biometrics.
  Unfortunately, all those efforts of trying to make it accessible 
didn't answer the question of whether or not it was going to be 
effective. Again, I remember trying to get around-the-clock sites where 
longshoremen and others who worked in these areas could get it, 
according to their shifts. Some of them are out for many days and 
months at a time.
  Specifically, GAO's review of the pilot tests aimed at assessing the 
technology and operational impact of using the TWIC with card readers 
show that the test results were incomplete, inaccurate, and unreliable 
for informing Congress and for developing a regulation about the 
readers.
  GAO found that challenges related to pilot planning, data collection, 
and reporting effected the completeness, accuracy, and reliability of 
the pilot results. GAO determined that these issues call into question 
the program's premise and effectiveness in enhancing security.
  In response, I introduced H.R. 3202, with the support of subcommittee 
Chairwoman Miller as an original cosponsor, to ensure that Congress 
received an independent--I want to make it very clear that this is very 
important--an independent scientific assessment of the program and to 
require the Secretary to ensure a corrective action plan in response to 
the assessment. The required assessment should give Congress the 
information it needs to determine how best to proceed with the program.
  I want to point out that in committee, language was integrated that 
clarified that any pending rulemaking would not be impacted by this 
bill and refine the scope of the assessment we are seeking, made it 
more pointed, and made it very clear that any rulemaking would not be 
interfered with.
  I think that is the right way for Congress to work. The department 
has said that the final rule for biometric readers will be published in 
January 2015.
  Mr. Speaker, I am hoping that we can continue to be on that schedule. 
We were hoping that it was going to be earlier, but we hope that this 
report will be more helpful to Congress in determining how, ultimately, 
this program will work.
  There is great interest in the final rule; particularly, there is 
interest in how many ports and vessels will be required to install 
readers for biometric cards.
  If the final rule requires only a limited number of vessels in ports 
to have biometrics readers, as has been previously proposed by the 
department, we will certainly need to have a discussion about what this 
means for the approximately 2 million truckers, longshoremen, and port 
workers who today are required to carry biometric cards to do their 
jobs.
  We want an effective system. I believe it could be effective. I 
believe it is valuable. I believe people should be carded going into 
security areas or sensitive areas, and I think we have gotten our 
workers to be able to understand it as well, if it works right for 
them.
  So we will look forward to this process where we continue to 
collaborate, and this legislation will be helpful as such.
  Mr. Speaker, I would like to just have some closing remarks to 
emphasize that the idea of the Transportation Worker Identification 
card, the TWIC card, was to promote security and standardization.
  It was a common credential that enables facility and vessel 
operators, as well as Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial 
law enforcement entities to verify the identity of individuals, a step 
that was not feasible prior to TWIC implementation, with potentially 
thousands of different facility-specific credentials, which is why many 
of us supported--and I strongly support--the TWIC card. I want it to 
work.
  TWIC also allows transportation workers to move among facilities, 
vessels, and geographic regions as needed for routine demands during 
emergencies while still maintaining security. In the interest of 
security and in order to provide proper stewardship of appropriated 
funds and collected TWIC funds or fees, this legislation was 
introduced, the Essential Transportation Worker Identification 
Credential Assessment Act, to really get a better investment for our 
money.
  I am looking forward to a comprehensive assessment that will, in 
essence, be done by a not-for-profit laboratory and so that the many 
problems and vulnerabilities that persist in this program can be either 
eliminated or corrected.
  We want to work with our, if you will, our partners, the Coast Guard, 
the Transportation Security Agency, and many others. As we all know, 
national security has to be for all of us our highest priority, 
particularly Members of Congress, and it certainly is for those of us 
in the Homeland Security Committee.
  So I would ask my colleagues, again, to support H.R. 3202, the 
Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment 
Act, and move us closer to completing our commitment after 9/11, which 
is to make this country the most secure country in the world.
  Mr. Speaker, I thank, again, my chairwoman and collaborator, Mrs. 
Miller, for her assistance.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of my bill, H.R. 3202, the 
Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment 
Act.
  When Congress enacted the SAFE Ports Act in 2006, we directed the 
Secretary of Homeland Security to implement a biometric credential 
program to ensure that individuals with unescorted access to sensitive 
areas in ports and vessels were vetted and known.
  However, we have learned that, as implemented by TSA and the Coast 
Guard, there are weaknesses in the program.
  Indeed, the Government Accountability Office has identified serious 
shortcomings with the TWIC program, as implemented, that may undermine 
the program's intended purpose and make it difficult to justify program 
costs, particularly the costs to workers.

[[Page H6898]]

  Specifically, GAO's review of the pilot test aimed at assessing the 
technology and operational impact of using the TWIC with card readers 
showed that the test's results were incomplete, inaccurate, and 
unreliable for informing Congress and for developing a regulation about 
the readers.
  GAO found that challenges related to pilot planning, data collection, 
and reporting affected the completeness, accuracy, and reliability of 
the pilot results.
  GAO determined that these issues call into question the program's 
premise and effectiveness in enhancing security.
  In response, I introduced H.R. 3202, with the support of Subcommittee 
Chairman Miller as an original cosponsor, to ensure that Congress 
receives an independent scientific assessment of the program and to 
require the Secretary to issue a corrective action plan in response to 
the assessment.
  The required assessment should give Congress the information it needs 
to determine how best to proceed with the program.
  I want to point out that in Committee, language was integrated to 
ensure that clarified that pending rulemaking would not be impacted by 
the bill and refined the scope of the assessment we are seeking.
  The Department has said that the final rule for biometric readers 
will be published in January 2015.
  There is great interest in that final rule, particularly there is 
interest in how many ports and vessels will be required to install 
readers for biometric cards.
  If the final rule requires only a limited number of vessels and ports 
to have biometric readers, as has been previously proposed by the 
Department, we will certainly need to have a discussion about what this 
means for the approximately 2 million truckers, longshoremen and port 
workers who today are required to carry biometric cards to do their 
jobs.
  In closing, I want to express my appreciation to Chairman Miller for 
the bipartisan nature of the work on this and all the bills that 
originate in our Subcommittee and thank you and your staff for their 
cooperation.
  As a Houstonian, I have a special appreciation for what is at stake. 
We owe it to the men and women that rely on our Nation's ports for 
their livelihoods to get this right.
  With that Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I certainly want to associate 
myself with many of the comments that my ranking member on the 
subcommittee has made in regards to maritime security. It is 
interesting on Homeland Security, both our subcommittee and the full 
committee as well, how we do work in a very bipartisan fashion.
  Really, the first and foremost responsibility of the Federal 
Government is to provide for the common defense, whether it's national 
security or homeland security. With all the issues that are facing our 
Nation, we think about the potential for terrorist attacks, and this 
piece of legislation really focusing on the maritime security of our 
ports throughout our Nation is, I think, so incredibly important, and 
so I am just delighted that we were finally able to bring it to the 
floor.
  I would certainly, again, urge all my colleagues to support this very 
strong, very bipartisan piece of legislation, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of 
H.R. 3202, the ``Essential Transportation Worker Identification 
Credential Assessment Act,'' introduced by the Ranking Member of the 
Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Border and Maritime, 
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.
  H.R. 3202 seeks to ensure that Transportation Worker Identification 
Credential program, as implemented by TSA and the Coast Guard, deliver 
the security benefits that Congress envisioned in the SAFE Port Act of 
2006.
  We have worked hard, on a bipartisan basis, to make this program 
work.
  However, as documented in multiple reports on the program produced by 
the Government Accountability Office, TWIC has not lived up to our 
expectations.
  Meanwhile, working-class Americans whose livelihoods depend on 
accessing ports and vessels have borne the costs of this troubled 
program.
  Longshoremen, truck drivers, and others are paying hard-earned money 
for biometric cards that may offer only limited security value.
  The bill before us today would require an independent assessment of 
the TWIC program and mandate the Secretary issue a corrective action 
plan in response to the assessment.
  The required assessment should give Congress the information it needs 
to determine how best to proceed with the program.
  The bill does not, however, delay the long-overdue final rule for 
deployment of TWIC readers, which is expected to limit significantly 
the ports required to utilize biometric readers.
  If that is the case, and depending on the outcome of the assessment 
required by the bill, Congress may need to examine whether requiring 
workers who do not need to access ports with biometric readers should 
continue to be required to purchase a biometric credential.
  For today, I look forward to speedy approval of this bill by the 
House and hope it will be considered by the Senate and signed by the 
President in short order.
  With that, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3202, 
the ``Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
Assessment Act.''
  Mr. McCAUL. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3202, the 
Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment 
Act. This measure responds to a key recommendation made by the 
Government Accountability Office, to conduct a security assessment of 
the effectiveness of the Transportation Worker Identification 
Credential (TWIC).
  The TWIC program is a joint-run program in the Department of Homeland 
Security between the U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security 
Administration. The program, which is intended to provide secure access 
control, uses biometric credentials to limit access to secure areas of 
ports or vessels only to those individuals that actually need access. 
Unfortunately, the TWIC program remains incomplete, which has resulted 
in significant uncertainty for our nation's transportation and maritime 
industry.
  While regulations were in place beginning in 2007 for maritime 
workers to purchase the biometric credentials, regulations requiring 
the issuance of card readers remain incomplete, and have been 
significantly delayed. These delays come despite the issuance of a 
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking more than a year ago to finally issue 
biometric readers. However, no final rule has been issued. The 
significant program delays have resulted in maritime workers having to 
pay to renew their credentials after five years, despite no biometric 
readers being required within that timeframe. These delays, coupled 
with a scathing GAO recommendation calling into question the underlying 
security value of the TWIC program, raise very serious questions about 
the future of this program.
  It is therefore important that Congress pass this legislation, which 
is responsive to the GAO's most recent recommendation on the program: 
an independent security assessment of the TWIC program. It is my hope 
that the Congress will observe the findings of this assessment, and 
consider reforming this program, if necessary.
  I thank the Chair and Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime 
Security Subcommittee, Mrs. Miller of Michigan and Ms. Jackson-Lee of 
Texas, for their important oversight and legislative work on this 
issue.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Speaker, as a senior member of the Homeland 
Security Committee, the Ranking Member of the Border and Maritime 
Security Subcommittee, and the author of the legislation, I rise in 
strong and enthusiastic support of H.R. 3202, the ``Essential 
Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act.''
  The Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
Assessment Act directs the Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS) to 
submit to Congress and the Comptroller General (GAO) a comprehensive 
assessment of the effectiveness of the transportation security card 
program at enhancing security or reducing security risks for maritime 
facilities and vessels.
  I introduced, H.R. 3202, in response to this GAO TWIC Report on the 
Weaknesses in the Transportation Worker Identification Credential 
(TWIC) Reader Pilot program that impacted the accuracy, and reliability 
of the system.
  The GAO report stated that data collection and retention was done in 
an incomplete and inconsistent manner during the pilot, further 
undermining the completeness, accuracy, and reliability of the data 
collected at pilot sites.
  Problems identified included by the GAO report included:
  Installed TWIC readers and access control systems could not collect 
required data on TWIC reader use, and TSA and the independent test 
agent did not employ effective compensating data collection measures.
  Reported transaction data did not match underlying documentation.
  Pilot documentation did not contain complete TWIC reader and access 
control system characteristics.
  Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the independent test 
agent did not record clear baseline data for comparing operational 
performance at access points with TWIC readers.
  TSA and the independent test agent did not collect complete data on 
malfunctioning TWIC cards.
  Pilot participants did not document instances of denied access.
  TSA and the independent test agent did not collect consistent data on 
the operational impact of using TWIC cards with readers.

[[Page H6899]]

  Pilot site reports did not contain complete information about 
installed TWIC readers' and access control systems' design.
  The seeks to address the problems outlined in the GAO report by 
directing the Secretary to issue a corrective action plan based on the 
assessment that responds to the findings of a cost-benefit analysis of 
the program and enhances security or reduces security risk for such 
facilities and vessels.
  Following the assessment the Comptroller General, within 120 days 
must: review the extent to which the submissions implement certain 
recommendations issued by the Comptroller General, and inform Congress 
as to the responsiveness of the submission.
  Prohibits the Secretary from issuing a final rule requiring the use 
of transportation security card readers until: the Comptroller General 
informs Congress that the submission is substantially responsive to the 
GAO recommendations, and the Secretary issues an updated list of 
transportation security card readers that are compatible with active 
transportation security cards.
  My Congressional District is located in Houston Texas, which is home 
to one of the world's busiest ports.
  The Port of Houston is critical infrastructure:
  According to the Department of Commerce in 2012, Texas exports 
totaled $265 billion.
  The Port of Houston is a 25-mile-long complex of diversified public 
and private facilities located just a few hours' sailing time from the 
Gulf of Mexico.
  In 2012 ship channel-related businesses contribute 1,026,820 jobs and 
generate more than $178.5 billion in statewide economic impact.
  For the past 11 consecutive years, Texas has outpaced the rest of the 
country in exports.
  1st ranked US port in foreign tonnage
  2nd ranked US port in total tonnage
  7th ranked US container port by total TEUs in 2012
  Largest Texas port with 46% of market share by tonnage
  Largest Texas container port with 96% market share in containers by 
total TEUs in 2012
  Largest Gulf Coast container port, handling 67% of US Gulf Coast 
container traffic in 2012
  2nd ranked US port in terms of cargo value (based on CBP Customs port 
definitions)
  The Government Accountability Office (GAO), reports that this port, 
and its waterways, and vessels are part of an economic engine handling 
more than $700 billion in merchandise annually.
  The Port of Houston houses approximately 100 steamship lines offering 
services that link Houston with 1,053 ports in 203 countries.
  The Port of Houston has $15 billion petrochemical complex, the 
largest in the nation and second largest worldwide.
  The bill will address the underlying concerns regarding 
Transportation Worker Identification Credentials documented by the 
Government Accountability Office report published in May 2013.
  When Congress enacted the SAFE Ports Act in 2006, we directed the 
Secretary of Homeland Security to implement a biometric credential 
program to ensure that individuals with unescorted access to sensitive 
areas in ports and vessels were vetted and known.
  However, under the Homeland Security Committee's oversight 
responsibilities we learned that, as implemented by TSA and the Coast 
Guard, there are weaknesses in the program.
  One of the greatest engines our economy has is the Port of Houston, 
which hosts a $15 billion petrochemical complex, the largest in the 
nation and second largest worldwide?
  The Port of Houston petrochemical complex supplies over 40 percent of 
the nation's base petrochemical manufacturing capacity.
  What happens at the Port of Houston affects the entire nation.
  For this reason, I introduced H.R. 3202, with the support of 
Subcommittee Chairman Miller as an original cosponsor, to ensure that 
Congress receives an independent scientific assessment of the program 
and to require the Secretary to issue a corrective action plan in 
response to the assessment.
  Indeed, the Government Accountability Office has identified serious 
shortcomings with the TWIC program, as implemented, that may undermine 
the program's intended purpose and make it difficult to justify program 
costs, particularly the costs to workers.
  Other considerations for security are in the infrastructure necessary 
to make sure that there is an ability to electronically check the 
credential of workers as they enter ports.
  The required assessment should give Congress the information it needs 
to determine how best to proceed with the program.
  I want to point out that in Committee, language was integrated to 
ensure that clarified that pending rulemaking would not be impacted by 
the bill and refined the scope of the assessment we are seeking.
  The Department has said that the final rule for biometric readers 
will be published in January 2015.
  There is great interest in that final rule, particularly there is 
interest in how many ports and vessels will be required to install 
readers for biometric cards.
  If the final rule requires only a limited number of vessels and ports 
to have biometric readers, as has been previously proposed by the 
Department, we will certainly need to have a discussion about what this 
means for the approximately 2 million truckers, longshoremen and port 
workers who today are required to carry biometric cards to do their 
jobs.


                            Bill Background

  The nationwide recognition of the Transportation Worker 
Identification Credential (TWIC) promotes security and standardization.
  A common credential enables facility and vessel operators as well as 
federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement entities 
to verify the identity of individuals--a step that was not feasible 
prior to TWIC implementation with potentially thousands of different 
facility-specific credentials.
  TWIC also allows transportation workers to move among facilities, 
vessels, and geographic regions as needed for routine market demands 
and during emergencies, while still maintaining security.
  ``In the interest of security and in order to provide proper 
stewardship of appropriated funds and collected TWIC fees, I introduced 
legislation to insist that DHS demonstrate how the TWIC Program will 
improve maritime security.
  The Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act 
will require the Secretary of Homeland Security to complete and submit 
to Congress and GAO a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of 
the TWIC Program at enhancing or reducing security risks for maritime 
facilities and vessels.
  The comprehensive assessment will be completed by an independent, 
not-for-profit laboratory.
  Many problems and vulnerabilities persist and will have to be 
resolved if the TWIC Program is to ever realize the security benefits 
envisioned by Congress.
  I want to express my appreciation to Chairman Miller for the 
bipartisan nature of the work on this and all the bills that originate 
in our Subcommittee and thank you and your staff for their cooperation.
  I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to strongly support 
this bipartisan bill.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller) that the House suspend the 
rules and pass the bill, H.R. 3202, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this motion will be postponed.

                          ____________________