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Legislation designed to expedite the application process for commercial drivers seeking certain security credentials was recently introduced in the U.S. Senate.
The Transportation Security Administration Security Threat Assessment Application Modernization Act, sponsored by Commerce Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), aims to assist aspects of the freight workforce with applications for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, or TWIC.
The bill would seek to standardize the enrollment and renewal procedures at the Transportation Security Administration. It also would pertain to the application process for hazardous materials endorsement, or HME, and programs associated with TSA PreCheck. Such credentials are required for the transport of hazardous goods at certain secured facilities and military installations. Presently, separate applications for TWIC, HME and PreCheck programs may be required.
“Time and again, freight transportation workers have risen to the occasion and delivered critical products across the country,” Wicker said in a statement accompanying the bill’s unveiling on May 25. “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, ranking member of the Surface Transportation, Maritime, Freight and Ports Subcommittee.
House counterparts introduced a companion version of the bill. “Many transportation workers across the country are required by law to hold multiple TSA credentials, yet the application and renewal process for the credentials is not streamlined. I have heard from workers in my district who end up spending a significant amount of time and money to keep their credentials up to date: This process clearly needs to be fixed,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“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. “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.”
Freight stakeholders, such as American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, have endorsed the measure. The groups called on lawmakers to clear the bill for the president’s desk.
“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,” ATA President Chris Spear said in a statement shortly after the Senate bill’s introduction. “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.”