AMENDMENT NO. 4930, AS MODIFIED
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I rise in support of an amendment that is pending. It will be voted on at 3:30, as I understand.
The amendment is very simple. It mandates--no test study, no pilot--it mandates we inspect all cargo that comes here for nuclear weapons within 4 years.
I have offered this amendment, frankly, out of frustration. This is something that can be done. This is something that is being done. This is something where the technology is working. Yet we refuse to move forward.
I come from New York. Obviously, we lived through September 11. However, I stay up at night sometimes worried about the worst tragedy that could befall us. There is nothing worse, in my opinion--and there are a parade of ``horribles'' with the terrorists--than a nuclear weapon exploding in America. It would change our lives so dramatically for so long for those who survive. If we were ever going to focus on a single issue, this should be it.
But for 4 years I have come to the Senate--my good friend from Minnesota has done very good work on this, my colleague from Maine has, my colleague from Washington has.
They say: We are not ready. Let's do a pilot. Let's study it. Let's improve the technology.
My colleagues, what has changed with me is that I visited the Hong Kong Port run by Hutchison Whampoa last April, along with the Presiding Officer.
And we saw it working in two lines. Trucks went through--it did not hold them up--and they were inspected for nuclear weapons in a system that everyone who has looked at it says works.
So what are we waiting for? The cost is not large. It is estimated, once it is up and running, the cost would be about $8 a container. Yet it costs $2,000 to move a container from Hong Kong to the West Coast. It works. The cost is reasonable. We are not asking the Federal Government to pay for it. In a competitive container world, it probably will not even be passed on. That minimal .2 percent addition to the cost of a container will probably not be added on.
So now is the time, my colleagues. We can have another excuse and wait another year and do another pilot, work more on the security and on the technology, or we can implement something now. The Homeland Security Department, in my opinion, is derelict in this responsibility. They have dithered and dallied. Every time we have offered amendments to put an adequate amount of money in to fund this, it has been cut by this body and by the other body.
The frustration, when we know we can really protect the people of this country and we let special interests, we let the fact that we need money for something else--although I do not know what else is more important--stand in our way. It is a monument to why people are frustrated with Washington.
Again, you and I have seen it, I say to the Presiding Officer. We have seen this technology at work. Hutchison Whampoa stands by it. Their leader was so frustrated that he implemented it himself in Hong Kong. And everyone who has studied it says it works. Would it take a little while for all these foreign ports, the 40 ports of the CSI, to set this up? Yes, but not very long. And when you compare this to the danger we face, all of the arguments against mandating that our containers be inspected
for nuclear weapons fade away.
Mr. President, I salute my colleagues who have offered other amendments. I salute my colleagues who have worked on the bill. It is a good step forward. But there is a glaring deficiency. We need a mandate. We have been patient long enough. It works. It can protect us. It is not expensive. What are we waiting for?
I urge my colleagues, I hope, I pray we can have a broad bipartisan majority for this amendment because--coming from New York, I feel this keenly--we do not want to be in the ``what if'' situation. God forbid, the worst has happened, a nuclear weapon has been smuggled in on a container and exploded on our shores. We do not want to be in a situation where we say: What if What if we had done more. Because clearly, as of now, we are not doing enough.
I yield back.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Minnesota.
Mr. COLEMAN. Mr. President, I share the deep concerns of my friend, high school classmate, colleague from New York, where I grew up, about the danger of a nuclear weapon, the danger of a weapon of mass destruction being smuggled into this country in 1 of 11 million containers. We have, no doubt, the same vision. We want America safe.
That is what we have been doing here. That is what the work of the Senator from Maine and the Senator from Washington is about and what we have put forth in the underlying bill that will change.
By the way, there were a lot of things in homeland security that I was frustrated with.
We spent 3 years, the Permanent Committee on Investigations spent 3 years on this issue, studying it, holding hearings. I encourage my colleague from New York to go to Hong Kong to take a look. My colleague and the Presider Officer went to Hong Kong and took a look at the system that is operating on 2 lanes out of 40 to see what we could do to put in place a system that would scan each and every container that goes through. It is a wonderful system.
What we need is action. That is what we did yesterday. We got action. We have in this bill a pilot project that will put in place, in mandates, in directives, not a mandate of what is going to happen in 2008 and 2010, not playing into the sloganeering of ``scan every container,'' but the reality of action today to immediately put in place a pilot project to see if we can make it work in a wider, more systematic way.
I am taken aback when I hear my colleague talk about ``we do not need any pilot projects'' and ``we do not need any test study.'' We have a system in place in Hong Kong now that is 2 lanes out of 40. It is a wonderful system. What happens is--I call it kind of a moving CAT scan--trucks come in and they kind of go through this device, ISIS device, and it takes a scan of what is inside the truck. It has a radiation portal monitor, so you end up getting images. I have watched the images. Hong Kong
is a CSI--Container Security Initiative--port, so I have worked with our folks there. But when a radiation alarm goes off in Hong Kong, our folks do not have the capacity to inspect it. There is no followup from us. The images that are received are not
processed by the folks in Langley or somewhere else. They are not coordinated with what we do on national security. So you have in place a concept where we have to see whether it works. That is what we should be doing: action. That is what this is about.
It was fascinating; I was reading an editorial in the New York Times and was somewhat taken aback. I am trying to understand the motivation for moving forward with this amendment. This is what I call a wave-the-magic-wand amendment, that we are going to tell people we are mandating something we have already got on the table in front of us, something to test whether it works. That is what we should be doing.
I think, by the way, people in this country are frustrated with Washington when we promise things or sloganeer about something as important as this issue and somehow project the sense we are doing something when we are not doing anything, when there is already action in place--action, action--a pilot project and then a mandate that
the Department, in 120 days, tells us: OK, what are the results. Show us how you have integrated this system which is now working in two lanes in Hong Kong--not integrated into anything in our operation--show us that it works, and then requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security, every 6 months, to come back to Congress and report on the status of 100 percent scanning, with specific criteria laid out. That is good government. That is good policy. In the end, I hope it is good politics.
I worry that this is about politics. There was an editorial, I have to say, in the New York Times, I believe today, and I was somewhat taken aback. It criticized Secretary Chertoff. That is OK. The Times can do that. I have criticized him on a number of occasions. But then the editorial talks about this issue of 100 percent scanning and then raised this issue of the cost of scanning--it is a small surcharge--and then it goes on to say: When it comes to homeland security, the Bush administration
has completely allowed corporate profits to trump safety--as if somehow, because the cost of this is $20 per container, that is why we are not moving forward mandating it today.
I want to step back. The way I became aware of the Hong Kong project was because of the private sector that said: Senator, you have to see this. We are willing to pay it. The cost is not an issue. The private sector is willing to pay $20 a container to ensure security. God forbid there is a nuclear device that goes off, we shut down the entire import of goods into this country, and we devastate our economy. So this is not a money issue from the private side. This is maybe the old ex-mayor in
me saying: This is kind of the practicality of making sure we have something that works.
The Washington Post, in an editorial in June, said it very clearly:
``[I]nspect 100 percent of containers'' is a slogan, not a solution, and we hope lawmakers resist the temptation to use it in the election season to come.
The election season is upon us. It is getting very close. This body, yesterday, moved forth with an amendment to put in place a pragmatic, realistic action-oriented way in which we can move to 100 percent screening. We put in place a pilot project to make sure what we are doing works and it makes sense.
We will spend, by the way, billions on this, not in the cost of the cargo but in setting these scanning systems up in the, what, over 700 ports throughout the world. And 147 are major ports. We are going to be spending a lot of money on this, but the issue is not money, it is doing it right. Let us step away from the sloganeering.
I am going to say this as to the idea of something being half-baked. If you put something in the oven and it is going to be really tasty when it is done, it is going to be really delicious, that is something fully baked. And you make sure it is baked in a way so when you eat it, you do not get sick. Half-baked is when you get something in the end that is the right thing--we believe, in the end, each and every container will be screened.
Right now, we have in place the screening of high risk. It is in this bill. Right now, we have the Department saying, before our Homeland Security Committee, by the end of next year, each and every container will be screened for a radiologic or nuclear weapon--by next year. But it will be done in our country. The goal is to have it pushed out, to have that screening done before it gets here. We do not need a half-baked way, a sloganeering way, and to simply say we are going to mandate something
in the future, without any path to get there. We have the path. We have done it right. I hope my colleagues reject the Schumer amendment and stick with what we did yesterday because it really makes sense.
With that, Mr. President, I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maine.
Ms. COLLINS. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Minnesota for his leadership on this issue and for his excellent comments. This issue was debated at length yesterday, so I am going to make my comments very brief.
I do oppose Senator Schumer's amendment. I do not think it is practical at this point to require 100 percent scanning of 11 million containers coming into this country. And it ignores the very real improvements that are included in the underlying bill.
I am disappointed to hear the Senator from New York describe our bill as yet another study or yet another pilot project. It is way more than that. It has a layered security system that greatly strengthens the Container Security Initiative, the C-TPAT Program, the automated targeting system. And it includes the provisions we added yesterday at the behest of the Senator from Minnesota that will help us move toward 100 percent scanning when it is feasible
and practical, when the technology is there and able to be in an integrated system.
It also ignores the fact that our bill includes a mandate--a mandate, I would say to the Senator from New York--that the Department of Homeland Security has to install radiological monitors in the 22 busiest ports by the end of next year, which will result in 98 percent of all cargo being screened for radiation, and addresses the issue the Senator has raised about a nuclear bomb or the makings of a dirty bomb.
So this bill does a great deal. I must say, it disappoints me to hear the Senator imply that it does not, even though we disagree on this one particular issue. This has been a bipartisan bill. Senator Murray has worked very hard on it, as well as many of the rest of us.
But let me sum up the problems by reading from a recent letter from the World Shipping Council because I think it really says it best. I ask unanimous consent that the letter be printed in the RECORD.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
WORLD SHIPPING COUNCIL,
September 7, 2006.
Hon. SUSAN M. COLLINS,
Chairman, Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Government Affairs, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
DEAR MADAM CHAIRMAN: We understand that the Senate is expected to consider shortly legislation to enhance cargo and port security. We write to communicate the World Shipping Council's support for legislation that will enhance the security of both American ports and the international supply chain. Previously, the House of Representatives passed the SAFE Port Act (H.R. 4954). We hope that the Senate legislation will reflect in part this House bill, will further strengthen cargo and port
security, and will enable this enhanced security legislation to become law this year.
During debate on this port security legislation, we understand that there may be an amendment which would propose to require 100% container inspection. Earlier this year, the House voted down a similar measure in its debate over the SAFE Port Act. Like the House, we urge you to vote No on any such amendment for the following reasons.
One-hundred percent container inspection proposals purport to be a cheap and effective way to ensure security. They are neither. It also fails to address fundamentally important security questions, it would disrupt American commerce, and it would cause foreign retaliation against American exports.
American commerce would be ground to a halt because there is no practical way to analyze or inspect the scanning images before vessel loading because it is too labor intensive and no technology currently exists to do the analysis, the proposal faces a dilemma that it clearly fails to address. Assuming the proponents intend that every container's scanning images must be inspected and approved before vessel loading, the costs of compliance and costs of gridlocked commerce would be enormous. It
changes who the government trusts to perform container screening without a hearing, a pilot program, or a rational deliberative process.
The proposal would effectively end Customs' Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), without so much as a hearing on the issue. This amendment rejects the strategic concept that there is low risk cargo that does not require inspection, and in doing so, it rejects many U.S. and international governmental efforts to create programs
that reward supply chain participants for enhancing the security of their supply chains by inspecting their cargo less frequently. The proposal also undermines the Container Security Initiative (CSI), as CSI is an international cooperative program pursuant to which other governments have agreed to work with the U.S. government to review and inspect containers that are determined to present a security risk, not to inspect every container.
Lastly, the proposal will harm American exporters. The U.S. applies virtually no radiation screening and no inspection to its exports. The amendment proposes that the rest of the world must subject their exports to processes and procedures that the U.S. does not apply to its own commerce. Congress should expect the United States' trading partners to consider imposing reciprocal requirements on U.S. cargo should these proposals be enacted.
The SAFE Port Act established a rational and deliberative process to study and evaluate the deployment of such container inspection technology abroad and all the relevant implementation issues associated with such systems. Senate legislation that mirrors this approach is the correct way to address this important issue.
In conclusion, we look forward to working with you on the important issues of cargo and port security. And, we request that you oppose any 100% container inspection amendment.
CHRISTOPHER L. KOCH,
President & CEO.
Ms. COLLINS. The letter reads, in part, as follows:
One-hundred percent container inspection proposals purport to be a cheap and effective way to ensure security. They are neither. It also fails to address fundamentally important security questions, it would disrupt American commerce, and it would cause foreign retaliation against American exports. .....
The proposal would effectively end Customs' Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), without so much as a hearing on the issue. This amendment rejects the strategic concept that there is low risk cargo that does not require inspection, and in doing so, it rejects many U.S. and international governmental efforts to create programs that reward supply chain participants for enhancing the security of their supply chains by inspecting their cargo less frequently.
It also undermines the Container Security Initiative. That is the international cooperative program where we station our inspectors in foreign ports and work with the governments that host those ports.
There are so many arguments against this amendment, Mr. President. The Washington Post said it very well in an editorial earlier this week as well. Most of all, let us remember what the implications are.
I have visited the port in Seattle and have seen the VACIS machines that do the x rays. It took approximately 4 minutes to do that x ray of the container and then another 15 minutes to analyze the image. If you do that with even the completely low-risk cargo, and you think of the fact that we have 11 million containers coming into this country, you are diverting resources away from inspections of high-risk cargo. It would create a massive backlog of cargo at our ports.
Now, as I have indicated, the technology is improving. I am glad the Senator from Minnesota set the record straight on what is and what isn't being done in Hong Kong at this time, where only two lanes are being scanned and the images are not being read and integrated into a security system. But we are going to keep improving the technology. We have a requirement that the Secretary report on this issue to us every 6 months after the pilot project in three foreign ports--after we have the results.
So we are moving in that direction, but let's do so in a practical, effective, efficient way. That is what the underlying bill does, particularly as strengthened by the Coleman-Collins-Stevens amendment.
Mr. President, we have tried very hard in this bill to make sure that we strike the right balance and put into place a security regime that is going to make our ports and our people safer. But we have done it without hampering the vital trade that manufacturers, retailers, and farmers in this Nation depend upon. I think we struck the right balance, and I am going to move to table the Schumer amendment, with the time of the vote to be determined at a mutually agreed upon time.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Vitter). The Senator from New York is recognized.
Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I want to briefly answer my colleagues. Of course, I have tremendous respect for what they have done and are trying to do. It is certainly true that my colleague from Minnesota was the first to talk about the system in Hong Kong.
I will make two points. First, it is true that we will put mandates here in the United States. We have them in New York in one of our ports. One, it is not close to being as sophisticated, effective, or as speedy as what is done in Hong Kong. It is not as good a system. Second, we don't have to debate the technicality of the system. We all know, as my friend from Minnesota said, that we have to push this outward, because if a nuclear weapon is on a container or a ship in New York Harbor that
hasn't docked or been unloaded onto a truck and it explodes, the same terrible consequences exist for the people of New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, or anywhere else that has a major port.
I will make one other point. My colleagues argue for patience. My colleagues argue we have to do this in a certain way. If this were 1 year after 9/11, or 2 years after 9/11, I would agree. In fact, I did. I wanted to offer amendments like this 2, 3, and 4 years ago. But I believe this. I believe nothing will get homeland security and the shipping industry and the world community to act and get something done better than a mandate. As long as they know
they can delay, as long as they can go to DHS and present 10 reasons why this should not be done, DHS, which has shown absolutely no enthusiasm for doing this, will get nothing done.
If this were danger No. 37 on the list, maybe, again, we should not have the tough measure--I would say it is tough--of imposing this. I assure my colleagues--we all know how the world works--a deadline will get DHS, the shipping industry, and all of the other players to act and get this done better than any other method.
So, again, I salute what my colleagues have done, and I remind my colleague from Maine that I have said this is a good bill. In fact, I voted for cloture, despite the urging of some of my colleagues, because I think it is a good bill. On the issue of nuclear security, of inspection of containers for radiological material, no one can say that we have done a good job--not this Senate, not the House and, most of all, not this administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
The time is now to force everybody to act. The danger is too great. I have offered this amendment after years--not months, not days, but years--of trying all of the other ways to get homeland security and, frankly, our two bodies to act. So I am grateful to my three colleagues, all of whom have done yeomen's work in this area. But we can do more. I suggest to all of my colleagues here that this amendment will get us to do a lot more than any other amendment proposed thus far.
I yield the floor.
Mr. COLEMAN. Mr. President, I reiterate the great respect I have for my colleague from New York. He is concerned about this area and he is passionate about safety.
I want to make it clear that we are not counseling patience. We are not asking for delay. It is just the opposite. What we are doing and what we have done and what we did yesterday was action. What we are objecting to is an amendment that offers no real increase in security. We are objecting to an amendment that doesn't do anything, doesn't move the ball forward. It gives an opportunity to talk about 100 percent scanning, and it may end up in some commercial somewhere. I hope that is not what
this is about.
The amendment doesn't do anything. It doesn't push the ball forward. This is not about patience. I am not very patient when it comes to making sure we are doing everything possible to protect against the possibility of a nuclear weapon being smuggled into this country, and that is what this bill does.
The amendment is to put in place a pilot project, move quickly; that is what it does. The amendment is to require 100 percent screening of all high-risk containers. That is what it does. We heard in committee the other day from the Secretary of Homeland Security, saying we can have 100 percent screening of all cargo containers for radiological devices by next year.
We are not counseling patience. We are supporting action and objecting to an amendment that offers no increase in safety. It doesn't move the ball forward at all.
I yield the floor.