On behalf of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), I write to express our support for H.R. 4251, the SMART Port Security Act, offered by Rep. Candice Miller (R-MI), which will be voted under suspension later today.
The SMART Port Security Act, among other things, makes needed reforms to the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program enrollment, activation, issuance and renewal process. Specifically, this legislation postpones the requirement of workers to renew TWIC cards in the absence of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) final regulations mandating biometric card readers.
Since the TWIC program began, over two million workers have fulfilled their obligation to enroll in the TWIC program, incurring the significant cost and time commitment to comply with the program. However, DHS has yet to issue a final rule on the biometric readers, rendering the expensive biometric component of the TWIC cards virtually useless. Despite the readers not being in place, workers will have to renew their TWIC cards beginning in October, 2012. This legislation would spare workers the financial and procedural burden of renewing their application until DHS puts the infrastructure in place to make the program fully functional.
This legislation also includes language which ensures that workers are only required to make one in-person visit to an enrollment center either for a first enrollment or a renewal. This will lift a logistical burden for workers, many of whom may be hundreds of miles away from a TWIC enrollment facility while on the job.
Transportation workers have been asked for too long to bear the financial burden of supporting a program that is incomplete and ineffective. I urge all Members to vote for H.R. 4251.