WASHINGTON, DC – Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Co-Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) were joined today by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), and Ranking Member Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.), along with 37 co-sponsors, in introducing a bipartisan comprehensive bill that would make significant security improvements to the nation’s transportation systems.
The bill, called the Maritime, Rail, and Public Transportation Security Act of 2006, combines the port, cargo, and rail security provisions of the Commerce Committee’s S. 1052, the Transportation Security Improvement Act, with the Banking Committee’s Public Transportation Terrorism Prevention Act, S. 2032. Both bills were unanimously reported by their respective Committees on November 17, 2005.
Commerce Committee Chairman Stevens said, “One thing that 9/11 taught us is that in order to improve transportation security, we must have clear objectives and methods to reach our goals. This bipartisan bill combines provisions approved unanimously by the Commerce and Banking Committees, which have long held the expertise in transportation security. The bill would make significant improvements to the framework now in place to secure the maritime, port, rail, and transit environments. These enhancements are absolutely critical to ensuring that Americans can travel safely and that the flow of interstate commerce is not interrupted.”
Commerce Committee Co-Chairman Inouye said, “The legislation we offer today provides the most efficient and effective way to enhance the nation’s port, cargo, rail, and transit security. Our approach takes full advantage of the transportation security and safety expertise of our two Committees and builds upon the systems that have taken 4 years to develop. Given the broad support for our approach, I am hopeful that the Senate can move quickly on this legislation.”
The introduction of this joint committee measure has elevated the prospect that Congress will tackle transportation security comprehensively for the first time since the enactment in 2002 of the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA) and the Aviation Transportation Security Act (ATSA).
The bill introduced by Senators Stevens, Inouye, Shelby, and Sarbanes, with its emphasis on the U.S. Coast Guard and the Transportation Security Administration, can be the Senate companion to the House’s own port security bill passed last week.
Banking Committee Chairman Shelby said, “We can and should be doing everything possible to increase the level of security of our transit infrastructure for the 14 million people who ride public transportation systems every day. This legislation will heighten security while maintaining a basic level of accessibility that a system open to the public requires. This has been an effort that the Senate Banking Committee has pursued for several years. It is my hope that this renewed effort will provide the momentum to get a bill signed into law this year.”
Ranking Member Sarbanes said, “We need to do more than just talk safety when it comes to our nation’s transportation systems – we need to act decisively before another London or Madrid occurs on one of our public transportation systems or we have a disastrous incident at one of our nation’s ports. This broad bipartisan group of Senators supporting this measure underscores the need to move forward with transportation security legislation as soon as possible.”
The rail and the transit security titles of the bill introduced today are similar to provisions previously approved by the full Senate. The rail security title reflects the Commerce Committee's Rail Security Act of 2004, and the transit security title reflects the Banking Committee's Public Transportation Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. Both passed the Senate unanimously on October 1, 2004.
Attached is a copy of the bill, a summary of the combined bill, and a list of the bill's co-sponsors: