Senate bill targets problems and inefficiencies with TWIC

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Excessive costs, redundant background checks, processing delays, and a lack of electronic card readers at ports and other secure areas are just some of the problems with TWIC, the Transportation Worker Identification Credential. A bill making its way to the U.S. Senate floor begins to address many of the problems truckers and other stakeholders have had with the post-9/11 security program.

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved a substitute amendment for a TWIC reform bill, HR710, on Wednesday, May 20.

The Senate version, as amended by committee Chairman John Thune, R-S.D., now advances to the floor for vote. If it passes, it will be sent back to the House, where lawmakers approved the initial bill in April. HR710 was introduced in February by U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.

OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Ryan Bowley says truckers are more than on board with reforming the TWIC program, adding that the amended Senate bill is the strongest version of the bill yet.

“From the trucker’s perspective, TWIC is a huge cost,” Bowley told Land Line. “The substitute amendment passed by Senate Commerce is a strong signal to the Department of Homeland Security that before you move forward on TWIC, you’ve got to make fundamental reforms to the program and address concerns that stakeholders have raised to Congress including the high costs and the duplicative nature of the program.”

If it becomes law, the HR710 would commission a Government Accountability Office study of TWIC, require a new cost-benefit analysis and require a third-party analysis and corrective action plan. It also says the Department of Homeland Security cannot issue a final rule on electronic card readers until the agency addresses any action items identified in the third-party analysis.

Bringing a third-party analysis into the mix is huge, Bowley says.

“Truckers pay a heck of a lot of money for TWIC, which involves redundant background checks that truckers already get,” he said. “This assessment would show whether all of that is necessary and will hold DHS to make sure they fix the problems before further moving forward on TWIC.”

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