Entitled, H.R. 4176, the Air Cargo Security Improvement Act, this legislation establishes the air cargo security division within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to carry out all air cargo security policy and stakeholder engagement.
The United States House of Representatives recently signed off on legislation focused on air cargo security.
Entitled, H.R. 4176, the Air Cargo Security Improvement Act, this legislation establishes the air cargo security division within the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to carry out all air cargo security policy and stakeholder engagement, according to the House Homeland Security Committee. And the Committee added that legislation also requires the TSA Administrator to conduct a feasibility study—and a subsequent pilot program—on expanding the use of computed tomography (CT) and other emerging technology for air cargo screening. It also requires a review of the Certified Cargo Screening Program and the Known Shipper Program.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) must review the TSA's screening processes and procedures for examining air cargo entering the United States and assess its risk-based strategy for examining such cargo, and the bill amends the Homeland Security Act of 2002 to provide statutory authority for the air cargo advance screening program.
The bill was originally introduced by Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, in November 2017.
“It is clear after a foiled terror plot this summer  – and others in the past – that the threat of a terrorist attack using air cargo on passenger planes is very real and should not be understated,” Thompson said last November. “The American public expects Congress act quickly to improve our aviation security to address this clear and present security threat. I introduced this legislation with the hopes that Congress will move with urgency to make the nation more secure from the threat of an air cargo-based attack and I urge my colleagues to join me and advance this necessary and straightforward homeland security legislation.”
H.R. 4176 is also a response to air cargo security recommendations included in a 2017 Committee on Homeland Security staff report on DHS’ progress in meeting mandates in the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-53) ten years later, according to the Committee. This legislation, originally sponsored by Rep. Thompson, required screening of all cargo loaded onto passenger planes, it added.
The Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report said in a customer e-mail newsletter that as passed, this bill does not include a provision in the original bill that would have required the Department of Homeland Security to issue within six months a final rule establishing the Air Cargo Advance Screening program that has been in pilot status for several years.
Brandon Fried, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Airforwarders Association was pleased that the House approved the Air Cargo Security Improvement Act.
“We are excited to hear about TSA testing new technologies for air cargo screening, especially since we have seen no significant changes from existing methods since the Certified Cargo Screening Program began,” he told LM. “That said, we remain concerned that so little money has been allocated to the technology government research and development process to find new technologies to improve the screening process.”
Fried also said that forwarders participating in the CCSP are very excited about the new TSA Third Party Canine Screening Program now at the beginning implementation stages at TSA.
“The initiative will allow those participating in the CCSP to use canines, supplied by certified, third-party private vendors to screen cargo in their facilities,” he explained. “Using canines to screen cargo is not new, and many countries employ them as a low-tech solution to solve a high-tech problem.”