Senate panel OKs rail, maritime security bills

The Senate Commerce Committee on Thursday approved two bipartisan bills that would increase the amount of federal funding for rail and maritime security efforts by $4 billion.

The committee reported out two measures that would add $2 billion over five years for each effort. The rail security legislation requires the Homeland Security and Transportation departments to conduct a vulnerability study on security efforts, and would authorize $100 million over the next two years for research and development.

The bill also would set up a $350 million grant program for infrastructure improvements nationwide, and it would authorize $670 million over five years for tunnel security improvements in New York, Baltimore and Washington. It also incorporates a whistleblower protection provision for rail workers who disclose security-related problems.

The maritime security bill approved Thursday would devote $400 million annually over five years to raise security efforts at the nation's ports, including increased tracking of intermodal cargo, increased research on blast-resistant vessels, and infrastructure improvement. Originally, the legislation directed the Homeland Security Department to enact a user fee to fund the increased security spending.

However, the committee approved an amendment by Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., striking the user fee language from the bill. Lott said these security efforts should be funded through customs fees paid by port users.

"The money is there," Lott said. "It should be used to pay for these improvements, instead of being used by everybody for all sorts of things," including energy bill provisions and welfare funding, Lott said.

But Commerce ranking member Ernest (Fritz) Hollings, D-S.C., said Lott's amendment in essence turns the bill into an unfunded mandate, because there is no language in it preventing customs fees from being used for non-germane projects.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.