Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Janice Hahn’s port security legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 411 to 9. H.R. 4005 “Gauging American Port Security Act” or GAPS Act directs the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a comprehensive classified examination of remaining gaps in port security and prepare a plan to address them.
“The loopholes that continue to exist in port security keeps me up at night,” said Rep. Hahn. “My first question as a member of the Homeland Security Committee was to Lee Hamilton, vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, on what Congress should be doing to protect our ports. Mr. Hamilton’s response that Congress wasn’t focused enough on our ports meant we needed to act.”
Ships make 50,000 calls a year on U.S. ports, carrying two billion tons of freight and 134 million passengers. Each day our ports move both imports and exports totaling some $3.8 billion worth of goods through all 50 states. Additionally, ports move 99.4 percent of overseas cargo volume by weight and generate $3.95 trillion in international trade.
“Ports are a huge piece of our economy and an attack or disruption would have a disastrous impact on American jobs and the economy,” Rep Hahn explained. “We will be able to better protect our ports and their contributions to our economy if we know where the weaknesses are and have a plan to address them therefore I’m very pleased this bipartisan and common sense piece of legislation has passed.”
Unfortunately less than 3% of cargo coming into the country is scanned, giving terrorist opportunities to smuggle themselves or their weapons into the United States with little risk of detection. An attack on the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach complex, for example, would cost billions to the regional economy and put thousands of port employees out of work and cause the demise of hundreds of local businesses.
“It’s a tribute to both the importance of the issue and Representative Hahn's tenacity that Congress passed her legislation a mere four months after she introduced the bill,” said Geraldine Knatz, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles. “Trade gateways, like the Port of Los Angeles, are critical pieces of our nation's economic infrastructure. Keeping these gateways safe is a national priority.”
The legislation now goes to the Senate for consideration.