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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 4, 2009 2:30pm-3:00pm EDT

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they can issue waivers to applicants when they represent no threat to port commerce or national security. the price of the d.h.s. twic port credential, five-year card is $132.50. and if you're in florida you have to pay an additional $100 to $130 for the florida clearance for the same five-year period. this additional financial and bureaucratic burden on florida port businesses and workers is unnecessary. the amendment i'm offering will restore reasonable, rational and cost-effective maritime business environment. duplicative and unnecessary costs erode the efforts to stimulate and grow florida's economy and decrease the effectiveness of national standards put in place by congress through the twic program. . if florida can justify background checks with legitimate homeland security concerns, this amendment gives them the opportunity to do so and the parallel program could
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be maintained. but if the duplicative and expensive background checks required by florida are not making our ports safer, workers should not have to pay for them. mr. chairman, i urge my colleagues to adopt the amendment. i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman from florida reserves the balance of her time. for what purpose does the gentleman from pennsylvania rise? mr. dent: i rise to claim time in opposition to the amendment. the chair: without objection, the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. mr. dent: thank you, mr. chairman. while the transportation worker identification credential, twic card, was intended to be the one security credential required of port workers nationwide, some state governments could not wait for the federal government to establish its program. and they moved forward with their own. currently as has been stated florida is one state requiring a separate and some argue duplicative security background check card for workers in port facilities. while it's unfortunate florida port employees are required to pay for background checks twice,
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t.s.a. cannot share the results of its background checks with florida. florida state law allows for individuals to be disqualified even if they were qualified by the t.s.a. through differences in disqualifying crimes. perhaps a better amendment would have been to allow t.s.a. to share the results of its twic background checks with florida. i would suggest that is a better amendment than the one currently before us. as written, this amendment would preempt florida from continuing their security background check program, a program that the florida state legislature strongly supports. additionally, some workers in port facilities receive criminal background checks, drug and alcohol testing, and credit checks as part of their screening process. many have distinguished this from the security focus screening of the twic program. it is unclear if d.h.s. would see the waterfront commissions background check as being preempted under this amendment
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because it is an employment safety criminal background check not a security background check. while the amendment does allow a state to demonstrate a compelling homeland security reason that a separate background check is warranted, this places an extraordinary burden on a state legislature. state legislature should have the right to determine what offenses qualify as disqualifying offenses in their ports, and this amendment would preempt that. at this time i would yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from florida, mr. mica. mr. mica: if i would -- the chair: the gentleman from florida is recognized. mr. mica: if i would i'd like to be able to close. i think our side has the right in opposition. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania has the right to close. the gentleman is correct. the gentleman from pennsylvania reserves the balance of his time. mr. dent: i reserve. the chair: the gentlewoman from florida. ms. castor: i'd like to thank the chair of the committee, mr. thompson, from mississippi for
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his leadership on this issue and the professional homeland security staff who are the committee's supportive of the of amendment. i'd also ask unanimous consent to submit for the record letters of support from the transportation trades department, the florida ports council, port everglades, port manatee, port of miami, the tampa port authority and the passenger vessel association. the chair: the gentlewoman's request will be covered by general leave. miscastor: i urge my colleagues to support the amendment and come down on the side of economic growth in a time of economic disaster. to come down on the side of the hardworking folks at our ports to say that it's not fair in america that just because you live in one state that you're going to be subjected to additional bureaucratic barriers to get to your job. i urge approval of the amendment and yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentlewoman from florida yields back the balance of her time. the gentleman from pennsylvania. mr. dent: at this time, mr.
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chairman, i'd like to yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from florida, mr. mica. the chair: the gentleman from florida is recognized for three minutes. mr. mica: do i rise in opposition to the amendment -- i do rise in opposition to the amendment the way it is crafted. i think the gentlelady from florida has very good intentions. let's look at the results here. first of all, this isn't going to eliminate the duplication that was referred to. florida can still issue an identity card, it's own identity card. it would be better to have one, just one identity card. but they still can issue one identity card. what this amendment does is it says that the state is prohibited from conducting a separate background check. so what this comes is a protection and cover for basically thugs and criminals who are at our ports. can you not do a criminal background check. this actually prohibits that. that's why i'm opposed to it.
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the reason we are concerned in florida about having criminal background checks, this is the camber report, this was conducted in 2000. one of our ports had over 60% of those working at the port with criminal backgrounds. here's part of the security assessment -- i'll name this court, jacksonville, it says, it has a large physical layout of its facilities. three noncontiguous term nams. the port represents a lucrative target to would-be smugglers and terrorists. this amendment by the way it is crafted, it should be revised, would prohibit florida from even if they want to, and still can with this amendment, they can issue their own card. but they can't conduct a criminal background check. that's wrong. that's wrong. we can't provide cover for thugs and criminals. and you hear from this report
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that it does pose both a criminal and terrorist threat. that needs to be addressed. this amendment the way it's crafted does not do that. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from pennsylvania yields back the balance of his time. mr. dent: i yield back. the chair: the question is on the amendment offered by the the gentlelady from florida. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is adopted. it is now in order to consider amendment number 8 pritchtprinted in house report number 111-127. for what purpose does the gentleman from arizona rise? mr. flake: i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 8 printed in house report number 111-127, offered by mr. flake of arizona. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 474, the gentleman from arizona, mr. flake, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes.
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the chair recognizes the gentleman from arizona. mr. flake: i thank the speaker. let me say from the outset this is i believe a bipartisan amendment. similar amendment has been adopted in previous authorizations. so i'm pleased to offer it. h.r. 2200 as we know establishes a new grant program that would provide grants to operators of general aviation airports for projects to enhance perimeter security, airfield security, and terminal security. noticeably absent from the language however is the determination on how this grant money is to be spent. too often we have seen legitimate grant programs become vehicles for member projects. members will simply earmark these funds for projects back home. a great example of this is fema's predisaster mitigation grant program. originally this program was intended to save lives and reduce property damage by producing -- providing funds, quote, for hazard mitigation
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planning, acquisition, relocation of structures, out of the flood plain, end quote. rather than continuing to award grants that have, as they have traditionally been awarded on the basis of merit, using a 70-page guidance document that details requirements and criteria, congress decided in 2007 to earmark about half of that funding. that same grant program was earmarked in last year's homeland security appropriations bill, and i have little doubt that it will be earmarked again this year as well. because once earmarks start to flow, you can rarely cut them off. so you have legitimate grant programs with a legitimate purpose. you have applicants waiting to apply only to find that the money in the account has been drained by member earmarks. the objectives -- let me just say another example of this is the cops grants program. it was cited to cost $5.5
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billion over the past five years. these are some of the most heavily earmarked programs that the congress authorizes. specifically the cops law enforcement and technology grant program appropriated about 187 -- $187 million in fiscal year 2009. that accounted for more than 500 earmarks, including -- included in both the house and senate at the cost of more than $185 million. this means that nearly 100% of the funds for that particular cops program were earmarked for particular towns and cities. i mention this because that's an example of other areas where in some cases like the homeland security program, we said many times we will not earmark these dollars. and yet unless we have a specific prohibition or language prohibiting it, it happens. and so these accounts go wanting later. i'm offering this amendment obviously to prevent wasteful use of taxpayer dollars. if we are going to authorize
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grant programs to meet specific needs, we need to ensure that these are met in a straightforward manner. this amendment is simple. it would establish the presumption that the general aviation security grants will be awarded using competitive means and based on risk. should the t.s.a. decide to use an alternative means of awarding these grants, the amendment requires that the t.s.a. provide to congress a report explaining that decision. lastly the amendment would prohibit this grant program from ever being earmarked. if congress is serious about enhancing security at general aviation airports including this kind of instructive language is necessary. history shows that without it these programs -- these accounts will become earmarked and it will nullify any legitimate need for the program to begin with. i urge support for this bipartisan amendment. and reserve my time. the chair: the gentleman from arizona reserves the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman from mississippi rise? mr. thompson: mr. chairman,
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while not opposed to the amendment i ask unanimous consent to claim time in opposition. the chair: without objection. the gentleman from mississippi is recognized for five minutes. mr. thompson: thank you. mr. chair, i'm pleased to support this amendment. which reaffirms that grant awarded to general aviation airports under this bill are done so through a competitive process. mr. flake's amendment based on the competition and risk is the right thing to do. i support the amendment and yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from arizona. mr. flake: i thank the gentleman. i also want to thank the chairman for working with my staff to insert language to make sure that these programs, the wording of these programs would be based on risk. that was a great addition to this amendment that i appreciate being able to work with the chairman of the committee on this. i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from arizona. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no.
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in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. it is now in order to consider amendment number 9 printed in house report number 111-127. for what purpose does the gentleman from massachusetts rise? mr. lynch: good afternoon, mr. chairman. i believe i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 9, printed in house report number 111-127, offered by mr. lynch of massachusetts. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 474, the gentleman from massachusetts, mr. lynch, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. lynch: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank mr. thompson, the chair of the homeland security committee, for his great work on this bill. specifically this amendment that i have offered would address a difficult situation that is faced by our transit security officers, especially those on the mexican border, but in every port of entry in the united states. we have about 50,000 of these officers that actually come in
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contact, physically wanding and screening travelers. as you may remember after the outbreak of h 1. n 1 virus -- h1n1 i virus the outbreak was in mexico city. the officers we put on the border, especially in laredo, texas, and other heavily affected states, were not allowed, they were not allowed to wear asks, to wear gloves, or to use hand sanitizer as they proceeded to screen travelers coming through from mexico. a bizarre situation develed where our officers actually were able to look across at the mexican security officers who all had masks on, they all had gloves on, yet our own t.s.a. did not allow our workers to wear masks or gloves. in fact when our officers took the initiatives to protect themselves, they were told by their superiors to take off
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those gloves, take office those masks. you're alarming the traveling public. many of these officers actually screen up to 3,000 visitors, travelers per shift. so they were actually exposed to a high degree to people who were exhibiting influenza. there are a couple of stark instances we received on the committee, affidavits from officers who actually confronted travelers who were visibly sick and yet they were told even in those instances they were not allowed to wear gloves and masks. . what this amendment would do would be to direct the homeland -- excuse me -- the transportation security administration to basically issue guidance that would allow these workers to protect themselves. at this point i'd like to yield to the ranking member on our
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subcommittee on the federal work force, mr. chaffetz -- i'm sorry, i'll yield back my time at this moment -- no, i'll reserve my time. the chair: the gentleman from massachusetts reserves the balance of his time. for what purpose does the gentleman rise? mr. chaffetz: i rise to claim time in opposition to the amendment although i am not opposed. the chair: without objection, the gentleman is recognized for five minutes. mr. chaffetz: thank you, mr. chairman. i thank chairman lynch for his great work in identifying this as a challenge. we have so many great men and women who serve at the t.s.a. in the front lines that are dealing with literally 10's of thousands of people at a time some which would be sick. we put first and foremost the protection and safety of the t.s.a. employees so if they choose to dawn a mask or put on gloves to protect their loved ones, their livelihood, that we should afford them that opportunity. we saw in the committee hearing that there is a great deal of confusion with the t.s.a. this amendment, which i appreciate mr. lynch bringing
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forward, helps clarify that so there's no ambiguity, so we can make sure that the t.s.a. employees has the safety and security that they deserve. and with that, mr. chairman, i reserve the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman from utah reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. lynch: thank you, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, i just want to point out the odd situation we have here. we have the world health organization that actually brought us up to a level five, they're now considering going to a level six on this influenza. and yet you had transportation and security and d.h.s. saying they did not think it was not medically necessary for our folks to wear these. you had the centers for disease control here in the united states in atlanta alerting americans just, you know, generally to, you know, cover your mouth, avoid unnecessary travel to mexico, take prudent steps to protect yourself. and yet we had these officers
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on the border that are screening in 3,000 people per day and they weren't allowing those individuals to wear masks. i think it's -- it points out a terrible incongruity in our policy. we have been trying to get them to change that policy. they would not do it voluntarily. we are put in a position to do this legislatively. mr. chairman, can i ask how much time i have remaining? the chair: the gentleman from massachusetts has 1 1/2 minutes remaining. the gentleman from utah has four minutes remaining. mr. lynch: i'll reserve my time at this point. the chair: the gentleman from massachusetts reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from utah. mr. chaffetz: mr. chairman, i'd like to yield as much time as he may consume to the gentleman from california, mr. bilbray. the chair: the gentleman from california is recognized. mr. bilbray: i stand in support of the gentleman's amendment. i think it's a commonsense amendment on government oversight. with you saw how there was an inconsistency with the stated purpose of protecting not only the public in general but also
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our employees. but we also saw there was a degree of let's just say insensitivity to the fact of allowing individuals the decency -- allowing them to protect their own health. let me address the author. this addresses a problem we didn't address in our committee and that is the public relations concern that sort of, you know, trumped good common sense and public health. and i think that if we make this clear with your amendment now you've got a supervisor who now may be concerned about if somebody wears a mask i might get a complaint and i don't want to put up with that kind of heat. now can say with your amendment that if i get a complaint i have the ability to point to a congressional directive here and i have a reason why i can protect myself by allowing the employee to make this call themselves on their own public health. i think this not only work for
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the employee on the front line -- it serves not only the public health of the employee but it also serves the administrative structure because it eliminates, basically reduces the degree of threat they have of being attacked for allowing the employee to have that. and i think the heat should stop here. i think the buck stops here. i think we set the example, and i appreciate the gentleman proposing this amendment. and i like to point out, this is the kind of bipartisan cooperation we have in government oversight, and i'm very proud of it. i'm very proud to support your amendment, mr. chairman, and i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from california yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from utah. mr. chaffetz: thank you, mr. chairman. i urge passage and i i yield to yeel. the chair: the gentleman from utah yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from massachusetts. mr. lynch: thank you, mr. chairman. i want to point out something that mr. bilbray, the gentleman
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from california raised. there have been on several occasions justification for people not allowing to wear masks, the justification seems to be that they -- the airlines and transportation officials don't want to alarm the public. i just want to point out when you travel around the globe, wearing these small dust masks, these are not large evil looking devices. these are simple dust masks that can be used. they look fairly common. you see them a lot overseas. it's quite a common thing, and as they become more widely used, i think it will become commonplace and will not bring alarm. the last point i want to make is this. these employees don't have the right to collectively bargain. they don't have a representative to file a grievance when they are told to take off their masks or gloves or their refuse -- refusal to use purell or something like
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that. they wouldn't have to come to me. i feel like i'm the business manager for the transportation employees. and while i'm honored to have that responsibility i think it would be much better handled if they had the right to collectively bargain and they have their own employee representatives intervene on their behalf when their own personal safety and the safety of their families is threatened. with that, mr. chairman, i yield back the balance of my time. the chair: the gentleman's time has expired. the question is on the amendment offered by the gentleman from massachusetts. all those in favor say aye. those opposed, no. in the opinion of the chair, the ayes have it. the amendment is agreed to. it is now in order to consider amendment number 10 printed in house report 111-127. for what purpose does the gentleman from utah rise? mr. chaffetz: mr. chairman, i have an amendment at the desk. the chair: the clerk will designate the amendment. the clerk: amendment number 10 printed in house report 111-127 offered by mr. chaffetz of utah. the chair: pursuant to house resolution 474, the gentleman
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from utah, mr. chaffetz, and a member opposed, each will control five minutes. the chair recognizes the gentleman from utah. mr. chaffetz: thank you, mr. chairman. at this time i'd like to recognize the gentlewoman from new hampshire, ms. shea-porter. for two minutes. the chair: the gentlewoman from new hampshire is recognized for two minutes. ms. shea-porter: thank you, mr. chair. i'd like to thank chairman thompson and his staff for their hard work on this very important bill. i'd also like to thank my colleague, mr. chaffetz. we share a deep concern and respect for the privacy of individuals. when this full body imaging was first introduced, t.s.a. said it would only be used as a secondary screening method for those people who set off a metal detector. now it has become very clear that the t.s.a. intends for this technology to replace metal detectors at airports all over the country. "the new york times" reported as much in an april 7, 2009 article. the chaffetz-shea-porter amendment would ensure that full body imaging would be a secondary device. and people that go through it
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is well informed. mr. chairman, we do not take this lightly. as a member of the armed services committee, i'm very aware of the security threats that are facing our country. we too want to ensure that the department of homeland security and the t.s.a. have the tools that they need to prevent future terrorist attacks. however, the steps that we take to ensure our safety should not be so intrusive that they infringe on the very freedom that we aim to protect. two weeks ago i went to washington national airport to view one of these machines. i saw how the technologies being used, the techniques being used and the procedures that t.s.a. is being put into place to protect our privacy. the images is very revealing. it's ill -- illlogical because if we allow this then -- illogical because if we allow it should be at every single building that we enter and
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every single bus we enter. i ask my colleagues to join me in voting for this amendment. thank you. i yield back. the chair: the gentleman from utah reserves. for what purpose does the gentleman rise? >> i rise to claim the time, reluctantly, in opposition to the amendment. the chair: the gentleman from pennsylvania is recognized for five minutes. mr. dent: i took a good look at the whole body imaging machines over at reagan international airport. i have to say a couple of things about this. i was impressed by the technology. it seems that over -- we have a great deal of satisfaction from passengers who utilize that type of screening. there are limitations to the magnatrometers. they can pick up keys and other prohibited items like liquids and c-4, potential explosives. it will be detected under the whole body imaging technology
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but not under a magnatometer. the privacy concerns that have been raised, while i understand them, i think they have been overstated. there are strong, strong restrictions in place to make sure that those individuals, the trngs security officer who actually helps the passenger go through the whole body imaging scanning is not in contact with the person who is actually viewing the image in a separate room. they're separated. the face of the individual is also blurred so that's another protection. so i do think that this technology is very valuable. it will help make us safer. and, again, i think it is a step in the right direction. so i would, again, reluctantly oppose the amendment. i understand the concerns expressed. i believe this technology is valuable and enhances security. at this time i'd like to yield time to the gentleman from california, mr. lungren, who
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previously served as the ranking member on the infrastructure protection and transportation security subcommittee. the chair: how much time does the gentleman from pennsylvania yield him? mr. dent: i yield him as much time as he may consume. the chair: the gentleman is recognized. mr. lungren: i rise in opposition to this amendment. i happen to be one of those people who happens to have an artificial hip. every time i go through i set off the screener. every time i go through i get hand patted down. and even though they do it in a very nice way, frankly that's far more intrusive than going out to reagan national airport and going through that particular system that we're talking about with those pictures. we have been working for many years since 9/11 to try and come up with devices which will allow us to be able to detect those kinds of things that have brought on airliners would be a threat to all passengers. the whole body imaging technology, which this
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amendment seeks to stop in terms of its application as a primary means of screening can detect many things such as small i.e.d.'s, plastic explosives, ceramic knives and other things that traditional metal detection couldn't detect. let me underscore that. this device that this amendment seeks to take off the table as a primary means of screening can detect small i.e.d.'s, plastic explosives, is he ramic knives and other objects that traditional metal detection cannot detect. that ought to be enough for us to understand this. and if you look at the privacy questions, let's be clear. the person who actually is there, the employee of t.s.a. who is there when you go through this machine is not the one who reads the picture. that person, he or she, is another room, isolated, they
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never see you. they actually talk to them by way of radio. so this idea that somebody is sitting in this little room waiting to see what you look like frankly is sort of overblown. and all i can say is this. i have been through many, many patdowns because i happen to have an artificial hip. going through this at national -- reagan national airport was so much quicker, so less intrucive, so less intrucive of my privacy than what we go through now. and for us to sit here now and pass an amendment which is going to stop this development and application frankly i think is misguided. and with all due respect to the gentleman from utah, who i know is sincere about that, and the gentlelady who is also sincere, i would ask you to rethink this. from my experience this is far more protective of my privacy than what i have to go through every time i have to go to the

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