Last week the House Homeland Security Committee published their report on HR 3202, the Essential Transportation Worker Identification Credential Assessment Act. The bill is now available for consideration by the Whole House and could be considered next week under suspension of the rules.
There has been some fine tuning made to the requirements for the independent report on the efficacy of the TWIC program, though nothing of major significance. It does expand the reporting requirements for the Comptroller General to include reporting on the progress made in implementing the plan developed by DHS.
There is one major change made in the reported bill. The Committee back-tracked on supporting the GAO report recommendation that the current TWIC Reader Rule be delayed until a comprehensive review of the efficacy of the TWIC program is completed. The new version of the bill adds §2(e)(2) that exempts the current rulemaking from any delay caused by this bill. The report explains that this way (pg 8 of the report):
“The Committee has been critical of the Department’s delay in issuing a final rule for the use of card readers at MTSA regulated vessels and facilities and, at this time, the Committee believes that the current card reader rule should move forward. The Committee directs DHS to incorporate the results of this comprehensive assessment into any additional rule making or changes to existing rules.”
One can certainly sympathize with the Committees impatience; the TWIC Reader Rule was supposed to be in place years ago. Of course, industry may not be too pleased with this change. The TWIC Readers are going to be expensive to install, use and maintain. If the TWIC program has to undergo major revisions because of the assessment required in this bill, the Readers may not be useful too far into the future. That assumes, of course, that Congress and DHS can act in an expeditious manner to implement any changes recommended by the study.
As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I expect that this bill will receive substantial bipartisan support when it comes to the floor. With that in mind, I would not be surprised to see it considered early next week under suspension of the rules. That way the House would be done with it before the recess. I think the bill would have a good chance of passing in the Senate in September, even with the electioneering and short schedule.