[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 97 (Tuesday, June 26, 2012)]
[Pages H4009-H4011]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]


  Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 4005) to direct the Secretary of Homeland Security 
to conduct a study and report to Congress on gaps in port security in 
the United States and a plan to address them, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                               H.R. 4005

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,


       This Act may be cited as the ``Gauging American Port 
     Security Act'' or the ``GAPS Act''.


       (a) In General.--Not later than 1 year after the date of 
     enactment of this Act the Secretary of Homeland Security 
       (1) conduct a study of, and submit to the Congress a report 
     on, remaining gaps in port security in the United States; and
       (2) include in such report a prioritization of such gaps 
     and a plan for addressing them.
       (b) Form.--The report required under subsection (a) shall 
     be submitted in classified form but shall contain an 
     unclassified annex.


       The Secretary of Homeland Security shall, in accordance 
     with rules for the handling of classified information, share, 
     as appropriate, with designated points of contact from 
     Federal agencies and State, local, or tribal governments, and 
     port system owners and operators, relevant information 
     regarding remaining gaps in port security of the United 
     States, prioritization of such gaps, and a plan for 
     addressing such gaps. In the event that a designated point of 
     contact does not have the necessary security clearance to 
     receive such information, the Secretary shall help expedite 
     the clearance process, as appropriate.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from New 
York (Mr. King) and the gentleman from Mississippi (Mr. Thompson) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York.

                             General Leave

  Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all 
Members have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their 
remarks and include any extraneous material on the bill under 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from New York?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I 
may consume.
  H.R. 4005, the Gauging American Port Security Act, or GAPS Act, is a 
commonsense bill that requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to 
determine if appropriate security measures to protect the Nation's 
ports are in place or if gaps in the security of U.S. ports exist. A 
lot of emphasis and attention is focused on our northern and southern 
land borders; however, it is important not to forget our largest 
border, the maritime border.
  While DHS employs a layered approach to maritime and port security 
based on risk, it is important to examine whether gaps in the current 
risk-based approach exist which may have a detrimental impact on the 
security of our Nation's ports and global supply chain.
  While DHS has come a long way in articulating the need for greater 
maritime cooperation through its Maritime Operations Coordination Plan 
and similar Interagency Operations Centers and other regional 
operational centers, this bill will ensure that gaps in port security 
are identified, allowing DHS to better execute its risk-based approach 
to maritime and port security.
  I would like to especially thank Congresswoman Janice Hahn for her 
work on this bill. I would also like to thank the contributions of the 
committee, and I urge my colleagues to support it.
  I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time 
as I may consume.
  I rise in support of H.R. 4005, the Gauging American Port Security 
  This bill, authored by Representative Janice Hahn, who is a member of 
the Committee on Homeland Security, would require the Secretary of 
Homeland Security to conduct a study of the gaps in port security in 
the United States. The study, which will be submitted to Congress, must 
set forth the prioritization of those security gaps and a plan for 
addressing them.
  Finally, the bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to 
share relevant port security information, as appropriate, with Federal, 
State and local government partners, as well as with those port owners 
and operators who are involved in protecting ports.
  Given the importance of America's ports and waterways to our Nation 
and its economy, they are an attractive target for terrorists and 
criminals. The

[[Page H4010]]

impact of a terrorist attack on a major port would be catastrophic--
with massive economic losses in addition to the probable loss of life. 
By requiring a comprehensive assessment of port security 
vulnerabilities and a plan for addressing them, we will be one step 
closer to making our ports and our Nation more secure.
  With that, Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. KING of New York. Madam Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the 
gentleman from Texas (Mr. Poe), who is co-chair of the Port Security 
Caucus, along with Congresswoman Hahn.
  Mr. POE of Texas. I thank the gentleman from New York for yielding 
and for his work on this legislation.
  I also want to thank subcommittee Chairwoman Miller for her work on 
this legislation. Both see the need to fix the gaps that are in our 
port security.
  I want to thank the gentlelady from California (Ms. Hahn), who 
introduced this legislation. We are both alumni from the same school. 
I'm sure you've heard of it, Abilene Christian University in West 
Texas. The closest port to Abilene, I guess, is a boat dock at Fort 
Phantom Lake, if you want to call that a port.
  But anyway, this bill is a good example of bipartisan work--of both 
sides of the House--on an issue that is important to all of us: 
security. This means national security and port security.
  Congresswoman Hahn and I recently founded the Congressional Ports 
Caucus to raise awareness about ports in Congress and in our Nation. 
She represents west coast ports, and I represent ports in southeast 
Texas, on the gulf coast. We saw a need for a national discussion about 
ports because of their importance to the Nation and to our economy. 
Since we both have ports in our backyards, that is the reason the 
caucus was formed. We have over 65 Members in both parties from all 
regions across the United States. Some Members don't even have ports in 
their districts, but all see that ports are a national security issue.
  One discussion we hope to continue through the caucus is the need to 
ensure that our ports are safe and secure. In meeting with industry 
groups and administration officials, it became evident to us that an 
updated plan on how ports should remain operational in the event of an 
attack really doesn't exist. There are gaps in our port security. The 
GAPS Act is an important step in addressing this existing problem in 
port security.
  Any attack on our Nation's ports would be detrimental to the economy 
because ports play a large role in facilitating the flow of commerce. 
Most of the products in our stores arrive through ports and then are 
transported by other means to stores throughout the Nation. A crisis 
event causing a port to shut down would greatly affect our national 
commerce--money would be lost; businesses would lose revenue; and 
people would be out of work.

                              {time}  1640

  Both the chairman and ranking member of the Homeland Security 
Committee support this legislation, and I'm grateful for that. I urge 
all of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this 
legislation. Port security is not a partisan issue; it's a national 
security issue that we all should be concerned about.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Madam Speaker, I yield such time as she 
may consume to the gentlewoman from California, a member of the 
Committee on Homeland Security and the original sponsor of H.R. 4005, 
Ms. Hahn.
  Ms. HAHN. Madam Speaker, I would like to begin by recognizing and 
thanking Chairman King and Ranking Member Thompson for their continued 
leadership on this incredibly important issue.
  The lessons of 9/11 have taught us we must be continuously vigilant 
and proactive in seeking out and preventing our country's most pressing 
threats. That's why, after 9/11, this Congress strengthened what proved 
to be one of our Nation's biggest security threats up to that point: 
aviation security. And while I applaud the great strides we've made in 
aviation security, we have not made the same level of improvements in 
port security.
  This was such a priority for me when I came to Congress last summer 
that, at my very first Homeland Security hearing focusing on the 9/11 
Commission's recommendations to Congress, I asked Lee Hamilton, the 
vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, What should Congress be doing to 
improve security at our Nation's ports? He responded by saying, My 
judgment would be that we have not focused enough on ports.
  This lack of focus on our ports not only jeopardizes our national 
security, but our economic security as well. The U.S. ports remain one 
of our country's greatest economic resources, as they provide our 
Nation with the link to the rest of the world and the global economy. 
Each day, U.S. ports move both imports and exports, totaling some $3.8 
billion worth of goods, through all 50 States. Additionally, ports move 
99 percent of overseas cargo volume by weight and generate $3.95 
trillion in international trade.
  However, port security does much more than protect American commerce; 
it also protects American jobs. According to the American Association 
of Port Authorities, the U.S. port industry supports 13.3 million jobs 
and accounts for more than $649 billion in personal income. That's why 
I was pleased to cofound the bipartisan Congressional PORTS Caucus with 
my good friend and fellow alumnus, Ted Poe, in order to ensure that 
Congress recognizes the vital role ports play in our national economy 
and the importance of keeping them competitive and secure.
  Despite all this, ports have failed to garner the attention I think 
they deserve. For instance, in the U.S., tens of thousands of ships 
each year make over 50,000 calls on U.S. ports. The volume of traffic 
gives terrorists opportunities to smuggle themselves or their weapons 
into the United States with little risk of detection. According to a 
recent CRS report, a 10- to 20-kiloton weapon detonated in a major 
seaport would kill 50,000 to 1 million people and would result in 
direct property damage of $50 billion to $500 billion, losses due to 
trade disruption of $100 billion to $200 billion, and indirect costs of 
$300 billion to $1.2 trillion.
  Congress attempted to address this issue by passing the SAFE Port Act 
in 2006 and the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007, which specifically 
required that 100 percent of the cargo coming into our ports be scanned 
by this summer. Unfortunately, DHS has made little progress in 
achieving this goal and does not plan to implement it. In fact, we've 
recently learned that DHS has only been scanning about 3 percent to 5 
percent of all the cargo imported into our United States.
  Now, while the feasibility of scanning 100 percent of incoming cargo 
may be a legitimate concern, there certainly needs to be improvement 
from where we are now. Whether it's increasing the number of Customs 
and Border Protection officers or investing in proven cargo scanning 
technology, there needs to be a plan for effectively and efficiently 
scanning our Nation's cargo.
  Another major vulnerability is the threat posed to vessels during 
their voyage at sea. For example, cargo is often checked either before 
it's shipped or after it reaches our shore. However, there has not been 
much light shed on the specific threats that exist between a vessel's 
point of origin and its point of destination.
  We also need to know more information about how fast a port could 
recover in the event of a terrorist attack or a national disaster if 
that did occur at one of our ports.
  Without resolving these issues, we risk putting our economy and the 
safety of the American people at risk.
  As a Member whose district borders one of the largest port complexes 
in the country, I understand the unique security challenges that ports 
pose to our economic and national security. My district borders the 
port complex of Los Angeles-Long Beach, which is responsible for 
approximately 44 percent of all the goods that flow into this country 
and 20 percent of the Nation's GDP.
  During a 10-day lockout in 2002, which arose because of a dispute 
between labor and management officials, closure of the west coast ports 
cost the United States between $1 billion to $2 billion a day. If an 
attack were to occur there, it would be economically debilitating not 
only for my district, but for the entire country, as well.
  While DHS has made a number of positive steps in strengthening port 
security and resiliency, the lack of attention on these vital issues 
creates a

[[Page H4011]]

huge problem for securing our ports. We cannot begin to come up with an 
effective solution without first knowing the extent of the actual 
  The economic importance of our Nation's ports, combined with the 
existing port security loopholes, is why I introduced the GAPS Act. 
This bill will require the Secretary of the Department of Homeland 
Security to conduct a classified study of the potential gaps in port 
security and ensure that the Department develops a comprehensive plan 
for addressing these vulnerabilities. By focusing on the specific 
dangers that threaten our port security, we can begin, I believe, to 
develop effective solutions to ensure that our Nation is prepared.
  Again, I want to thank Chairman King and Ranking Member Thompson for 
their leadership on this issue, my Congressional PORTS Caucus 
cofounder, Ted Poe, for recognizing the importance of our ports.
  I would like to point out that this bill went through regular order 
and is supported by both Democrats and Republicans on an issue that I 
know we all care about. I urge my colleagues to support this important 
bipartisan legislation.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I have no more speakers. If 
the gentleman from New York has no more speakers, then I am prepared to 
  Mr. KING of New York. This bipartisan bill is a good bill. I urge my 
colleagues to support it. It builds very strongly on the initial port 
security bill of 2006 that was sponsored by Mr. Lungren, who is here 
today, and Jane Harman, who was also in Congress at that time. It was a 
very good bill. This adds to it, improves on it, and it keeps up with 
the changes in the times.
  I urge its adoption, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, our Nation's ports are as 
diverse as the people they serve. The importance of this infrastructure 
to the global supply chain cannot be overstated.
  Enactment of H.R. 4005 will help ensure that our limited security 
resources can be targeted to those threats that put our ports at the 
greatest risk.
  With that, Mr. Speaker, I urge the passage of H.R. 4005, and I yield 
back the balance of my time.
  Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to support H.R. 
4005, the ``Gauging American Port Security'' or GAPS Act. This act will 
direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to conduct a study and report 
to Congress on gaps in port security in the United States as well as 
provide plans to address them.
  As a senior Member of the Homeland Security Committee, I know that 
the threats against the nation are constantly changing and ever 
present. Ensuring the safety and security of our ports is a measure 
that will directly address some of these threats and maintain the 
economic well-being of our port system.
  Over 11 million cargo containers arrive in our ports each year, 
bringing in imports from across the world. By placing these additional 
measures on the Department of Homeland Security, we are enabling ports 
to conduct business without fear that these daily imports are a threat 
to national security. As a representative from the 18th Congressional 
District of Houston, I represent one of the world's busiest ports. 
Houston is linked to 1,053 ports in 203 countries through about 100 
steamship lines. The ship channel is a part of the Gulf Intracoastal 
Waterway, which is a very busy barge traffic lane. Houston is also one 
of only eight U.S. cities to have a regional office of the U.S. Export-
Import Bank.
  The Port of Houston is essential to regional economic stability. A 
2012 study by Martin Associates reports the port helps provide 
1,026,820 jobs throughout Texas, which is an increase of 785,000 jobs 
in its 2007 study. The port brings in more than $178.5 billion a year, 
including over $4.5 billion in state and local tax revenues.
  In addition, the Port of Houston also boasts the nation's largest 
petrochemical complex. Houston is known as a gateway for cargo 
traveling to the West and Midwest regions of our nation.
  Although the Port is integral to Houston's development, as well as to 
the nation's economic development, its financial strength is not 
possible without strong security measures in place.
  The heavy traffic flow of imports and exports that come through the 
port each day can leave room for drug trafficking and terrorists 
activities to take place. Although the Port of Houston, and ports 
across the U.S. boasts that they are secure and in line with nationally 
mandated security measures, it is my hope that the GAPS act will 
address any and all individual security shortcoming that each port may 
face that make them vulnerable to attacks against the Homeland.
  The Port of Houston and the majority of ports across the nation have 
a remarkable track record of accomplishments that I hope to see 
continue. But their economic success and efficiency will only be 
hindered without additional security measures in place. This is why I 
urge my colleagues to support the provisions of H.R. 4005.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Fitzpatrick). The question is on the 
motion offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. King) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 4005, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. In the opinion of the Chair, two-thirds 
being in the affirmative, the ayes have it.
  Mr. KING of New York. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground 
that a quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum 
is not present.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 8 of rule XX, further 
proceedings on this question will be postponed.
  The point of no quorum is considered withdrawn.