Efforts to increase funding for port and transit security got a big boost Sept. 14 when the Senate voted unanimously to approve the Port Security Improvement Act of 2006. The bill authorizes nearly $3.3 billion for port security during the next six years and $3.5 billion for transit security over the next three years.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R- Tenn.) praised the bi-partisan effort to plug "the holes in our porous borders."
"The Port Security Improvement Act strengthens cargo security programs, improves security training for port workers, and institutes protocols for reopening ports following a terrorist attack," he said.
Among the provisions, the bill authorizes $400 million per year for the federal Port Security Grant program. It also calls for the addition of nuclear detection devices to scan incoming cargo at the 22 busiest U.S. ports by the end of next year.
The bill is an amended version of legislation passed by the House of Representatives in May, which focused on port issues. The Senate version of the bill expands funding to include transit projects, such as tunnel protection systems, operations control systems and threat detection systems.
William W. Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association, praised the amended bill�s investment in transit security.
"Since September 11, 2001, the federal government has allocated less than $400 million to transit security, yet the American transit industry knows that it needs at least $6 billion to meet the security needs of its customers," Millar said.
The House and Senate bills will now head to a conference committee for resolution before being sent to President Bush.