Kurt Nagle, president of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) said, “AAPA is pleased the House recognizes the need of U.S. ports to have a greater financial partnership with the federal government in paying for critical seaport security measures.” His comments followed the 389-to-9 favorable vote to increase funding for the Port Security Grant program by 14%. The $200 million is a significant increase over the $150 million recommended by the House for fiscal 2006.
Included in the state-of-the-art measures Nagle hopes to see funded are surveillance technology and protection against vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.
The annual funding need is still twice what the House voted to provide, cautioned Nagle. He expressed the group’s disappointment that the Senate-House conference committee cut all $648 million for port security from this year’s Port Security Grant program from the fiscal year 2006 emergency supplemental appropriations bill.
Ports face additional costs for the Transportation Workers Identification Credential (TWIC) once those rules are finalized.
“The annual appropriation of $400 million for the Port Security Grant program is crucial,” said Nagle. The additional funds proposed in the emergency appropriations bill would have brought the grant program up to that level for the first time," Nagle explained. “It’s important that the next annual spending bill provide the full $400 million for the Port Security Grant program to help ports pay to install TWIC card readers,” he added. “AAPA will continue to work with the Senate to achieve this funding level.”
In other news related to Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced federal regulations that would make it easier for employers to verify employment eligibility of workers. One proposal would permit U.S. businesses to digitize their I-9 employment forms used to verify work eligibility. The other regulation sets forth guidance for U.S. businesses when handling no-match letters from the Social Security Administration.
The Social Security Administration sends no-match letters when a worker’s Social Security number does not match the worker’s name on tax or employment eligibility documents. The Social Security Administration estimates that of 250 million wage reports it receives each year, as many as 10% belong to employees whose name does not match the Social Security number.
The no-match regulation reviews the legal obligations of an employer when the employer receives a no-match letter from the Social Security Administration or Department of Homeland Security. The regulations are subject to a 60-day public comment period once published in the Federal Register.