ATA, Stakeholders Press Congress on TSA Threat Assessment Enrollment Bill

TSA precheck
Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg

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American Trucking Associations is among the stakeholders recently calling on congressional committees to pass a bill that expedites applications for commercial drivers seeking security credentials.

On July 11, the nearly 90 groups representing the trucking industry and various other commercial transportation sectors wrote lawmakers on the transportation panels to express their support for the Transportation Security Administration Security Threat Assessment Application Modernization Act.

“Despite our unique perspectives on challenges facing America’s supply chains, we share the common burden of redundant background checks and duplicative fees that make it challenging and onerous for our members to obtain the security credentials they need to do their jobs,” the groups wrote.

TSA Threat Assessment by Transport Topics

The bill “is a long overdue solution for essential workers like truck drivers, pipeline operators, longshore workers and warehouse managers, among many others, who must obtain these credentials as a condition of employment,” they added. “The people who keep our supply chain running deserve a federal credentialing process that respects their time and money, and the TSA Security Threat Assessment Application Modernization Act directs the implementation of a streamlined system that supports America’s workers.”

Joining ATA were the Association of American Railroads, the Automobile Carriers Conference, the Border Trade Alliance, the Dangerous Goods Advisory Council, the Energy Marketers of America, the Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, the Gases and Welding Distributors Association, Government Freight Conference, the Institute of Makers of Explosives, the Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America and the Moving and Storage Conference, among others.

The bill is sponsored by Senate Commerce Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.). It would seek to assist aspects of the freight workforce with the application process for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) and other requisite security credentials such as the hazardous materials endorsement (HME) and TSA PreCheck. Specifically, it would standardize enrollment and renewal procedures at the Transportation Security Administration.

The security credentials are a requirement for truckers transporting hazardous products at secured facilities and military installations. Presently, separate applications may be required.

“Time and again, freight transportation workers have risen to the occasion and delivered critical products across the country,” Wicker said during the bill’s unveiling in May. “Workers who need multiple TSA credentials face burdensome enrollment requirements and fees. I am glad to introduce legislation to reduce the bureaucratic barriers for workers who need these credentials to keep goods moving.”

“This common-sense legislation would streamline the TSA’s certification process for transportation workers who need approval from credentialing programs to do their jobs. By cutting down on duplicative red tape, the bill will also save truckers time and money when obtaining licenses. Importantly, these process improvements would all be made without impacting security concerns,” added Fischer, the ranking member of the Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight and Ports Subcommittee.

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House lawmakers have unveiled similar legislation. “Our bill streamlines the process for transportation workers to apply for and enroll in multiple credentials from TSA,” said Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. He is a bill sponsor. “We need to remove unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles that burden our transportation workers from doing their important jobs. Our transportation sector is imperative to our economic recovery from the pandemic, and this legislation eliminates redundant and costly requirements.”

A vote to advance the legislation to the White House for enactment has yet to be scheduled.

Earlier this year, American Trucking Associations President Chris Spear expressed support for the measure. “This common-sense legislation will ease the burden on many hardworking men and women and allow them to focus on navigating the nation’s highways instead of government bureaucracies,” Spear said. “Duplicative fees and redundant background checks are placing unnecessary costs, both financial and time, on truckers at a time when our economy is short more than 80,000 drivers.”