U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today announced the introduction of S. 3379, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act. The legislation addresses deficiencies in the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA’s) efforts to protect rail, transit, highway, and maritime passenger and freight transportation identified through congressional oversight and a recent report by the Department of Homeland Security inspector general.
“TSA has broad responsibilities for transportation security, but oversight and independent audits have raised considerable concern about its approach to protecting rail, transit, maritime, and highway travelers,” said Thune. “This bipartisan legislation addresses gaps in TSA’s approach to assessing security risks and will help the agency better fulfill its role as a hub of analysis, planning, and information.”
The legislation is intended to address concerns, underscored by recent attacks on transit stations in Western Europe and New Jersey, that TSA is not adequately positioned to identify security risks across different modes of transportation, serve as a source of intelligence, or as a training and best practices resource for federal, state, local and private transportation security. TSA has previously said in testimony to Congress that it uses only three percent of its budget on surface transportation security.
U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Commerce Committee, Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) are cosponsors of S. 3379.
Highlights of S. 3379:
Enhances Risk-Based Security Planning
- Requires the TSA administrator to conduct a risk analysis and implement a risk-based security model for surface transportation facilities.
- Mandates risk-based budgeting for surface transportation security focusing resources on current threats with annual reviews of program effectiveness.
Canine Explosive Detection Teams for Surface Transportation
- Authorizes as many as 70 additional canine teams to work in surface transportation security as soon as possible.
- Requires a review of the number, location, and utilization of canine teams in surface transportation security to ensure effective use.
- Following this review and the implementation of recommendations, TSA may then raise the total number of canine teams to 200 above the number currently in place.
- Mirroring the advisory committee for aviation established by the Aviation Security Stakeholder Participation Act of 2014, establishes a Surface Transportation Advisory Committee to provide stakeholders and the public with the opportunity to coordinate with the agency and comment on policy and pending regulations.
- Requires that TSA budget submissions clearly indicate which resources will be used for surface transportation security and which will be dedicated to aviation.
- Directs TSA to regularly update Congress on the status of long overdue surface transportation rulemakings.
Reforms Port Security and TWIC
- Requires TSA to address gaps and improve the screening of maritime workers.
- Mandates a comprehensive third party assessment of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program and a corrective action plan to address deficiencies.
Enhances Passenger Rail Security
- Authorizes the use of computerized vetting systems for passenger rail at the request of Amtrak police and the Amtrak Board of Directors.
- Allows grant funding to be used to enhance passenger manifest data so that rail passengers can be identified in case of emergency.
Click here for the full text of S. 3379, the Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act.