Shippers on Wednesday failed to convince members of Congress to scrap legislation requiring all containers be scanned overseas before being allowed into U.S. ports.
The “scan all” requirement is set to take effect next month despite the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, along with major shippers, repeatedly telling Congress that the goal is impractical. Despite congressional reports documenting technological problems, high costs, port delays and foreign government pushback, Congress appears to be still planning on holding the DHS to the deadline.
Although the scanning requirement wasn't in the port authority bill, opponents had hoped the Committee on Homeland Security would include language blocking the mandate when it approved the port security bill Wednesday. Napolitano can extend the deadline for two years and in additional two-year increments if she tells Congress the scanning systems aren't up to snuff yet.
The National Retail Federal argues that the requirement, which was introduced in the 9/11 Act, doesn’t improve port security.
"We believe Congress should take this one step further and permanently waive the requirement for the reasons laid out by DHS," the NRF wrote in a letter to CHS Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., and committee ranking member Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.
The Securing Maritime Activities through Risk-Based Targeting for Port Security, or the SMART Port Security Act, is a reauthorization of the SAFE Port Act, which was passed in 2006. The newest version would also work to eliminate duplication of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) program and other port security initiatives.