House and Senate negotiators appeared to agree Oct. 17 on a bill to tighten security at the nation's ports in view of the recent apparent terrorist attack on a French oil tanker near a Yemeni port and the economic impact of the West Coast labor dispute, AP reports.
"The dire consequences of a terrorist event at our ports - in human lives and economic disruption - would be devestating," said Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Ernest Hollings (D-SC). "Completion of this legislation represents a significant step forward for the nation's security."
At the urging of House Transportation Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), the bill would give the Coast Guard added power to assess every U.S. port's vulnerability to terrorism.
The bill also would require background checks for some port employees and would fund cargo scanning equipment and transponders to keep track of ships. House and Senate negotiators expect to pass a finished bill during the week of Nov. 11, after Congress returns from its election recess, Hollings said.