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AAPA Applauds 2020 Port Security Funding Bill

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By MarEx 2019-06-05 20:19:59

United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding legislation approved on June 5 by the House Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee is being heralded as a “win” for ports by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA).

From AAPA’s perspective, the bill’s key milestones include an increase in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers by 1,200, an additional $10 million for the Port Security Grant Program (bringing it to $110 million), and resources for hiring another 240 agricultural specialists, which inspect America’s food imports.

In an April 3 letter to House and Senate Appropriations Committee leaders, AAPA recommended that a minimum of 600 new CBP officers be hired annually, above the current annual attrition rate of 700 CBP officers, and that the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP) be funded at its full $400 million authorized level. Additionally, AAPA requested that appropriators work with CBP on its staffing model to develop a mechanism to send a greater proportion of CBP staffing resources to seaports.

AAPA President and CEO Kurt Nagle praised House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chair Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Ranking Member Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) for their leadership on the issues.

AAPA’s The State of Freight IV: Port Security Grant Program Report, released in January, found that only a quarter of PSGP funding is going to port authorities, while 60 percent is going to public sector entities such as fire, police and Emergency Medical Services entities that already have other federal funding sources to draw from. Additionally, 15 percent of that funding is going to the private sector.

In that report, AAPA members identified upwards of $4 billion in port security investment needs for port authorities alone over the next decade, which works out to $400 million annually. “But the $4 billion in port authority needs is just a small slice of the total required to ensure we have safe and efficient ports,” stated Nagle. “Cargo activities at our nation’s ports account for over a quarter of our nation’s economy. New threats to port authorities, communities and the supply chain have recently emerged, such as cyber hacking, active shooters and soft targets. It’s vital to understand and appreciate how security threats evolve, and that the Port Security Grant Program delivers great value in an ever-morphing security landscape.”