Efforts to beef up port, rail security lose steam

After passage of an aviation security package last fall, security measures for railroads and ports appear to have all but drowned in a political quagmire.

After Sept. 11, Congress was in a bipartisan rush to pass legislation to beef up transportation security. But after passage of an aviation security package last fall, security measures for railroads and ports appear to have all but drowned in a political quagmire.

"We've spent all our time and effort on the last target, leaving no room for others," a Senate aide involved in the rail negotiations said of aviation.

"These guys don't like rails, and they don't want to spend money on rails," said Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., an ardent supporter of a $2 billion railroad security package that passed out of committee last year but has been blocked from Senate floor action by a series of "rolling holds" by Republicans.

While it has been reported that Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., held up the bill over moving railroad tracks in Mississippi, Lott said Wednesday that rail security is "being dealt with by others." He said his separate efforts to push tracks legislation go beyond the Gulf Coast state.

Administration officials hint that problems transcend parochial issues and charge that rail supporters are using "ham-handed efforts" to force the measure, one administration source said without elaborating.

However, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., who included rail security in a larger package in committee this year, and Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, who has backed numerous rail bills, were optimistic.

"We're working on it," Hollings said.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee plans to mark up its own rail package in the full committee next week, but floor prospects are unclear. Ranking member James Oberstar, D-Minn., plans to introduce a rail safety bill Thursday.

But the House is having trouble bringing a seaport security bill to the floor, where the Transportation panel has been trying since March to get its bill on the suspension calendar.

While House GOP leadership sources say the delay results from a deal leaders made with Rep. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., on textiles and trade, Transportation panel members are having trouble reconciling port security's link with trade.

"It's been extremely frustrating," said a committee spokesman.

GOP leadership and appropriations staffers said the supplemental bill now being marked up is a potential target for the textile fix, but factors are at play in moving port security.

Senate aides contend a $3.6 billion port security package that passed unanimously in December has administration support, but House Republicans said administration officials support provisions in their $75 million bill.

Tensions are particularly high over a House provision that would expand cargo oversight beyond the Customs Department to include the Transportation Security Administration and the military.

The Senate would prefer to keep the authority within Customs. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas, R-Calif., is reluctant to support a bill that dilutes his authority over Customs, aides said.

Meanwhile, recent reports of terrorists entering the country in cargo containers are increasing pressure on legislators to get to a House and Senate conference.

"If one container gets through, they'll close down the ports. It would be economic devastation far worse than the aviation system shutting down for a couple of months," said a Senate aide close to the efforts.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.