House passes Secure Border Act

Bill goes to Senate with provisions important to security industry
Monday, July 16, 2012

WASHINGTON—The Security Industry Association announced some good news for the industry in June: The House has passed H.R. 1299, the Secure Border Act.

Thanks to SIA’s efforts in the past year, the bill includes provisions important to the security industry. The bill “promotes the use of a comprehensive technology plan for major surveillance and detection technology programs, including a justification and rationale for technology choices and deployment locations," a SIA news release stated.

Marcus Dunn, SIA’s director of government relations, told Security Systems News that prospects are good for passage of the bill in the Senate.

The measure passed May 30 on suspension in the House, which means that it passed by a supermajority on a voice vote. When a bill is passed on suspension, “the assumption is that it’s non-controversial,” Dunn said.

“Given that, we should have the ability to get it passed in the Senate,” he said. "If Congress can get [bills passed] without too much hassle before November, they are generally interested in doing that.”

If the Senate is able to do the same thing as the House—it’s called unanimous consent in the Senate—the bill won’t have to go to conference and can quickly be signed into law by the president, Dunn said.

The bill was received in the Senate on June 4 and was read twice, then was referred to the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs.

The Secure Border Act, introduced by Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich., would direct the secretary of Homeland Security to submit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for gaining operational control of the international borders between U.S. ports of entry. It also calls for the development of a five-year plan to ensure that the goal of complete operational control is being achieved in border areas.

The strategy will propose staffing requirements, infrastructure investments, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicle, detection and security equipment—“radiation portal monitors, biometrics, and other sensors and technology that the secretary determines necessary,” according to the text of the bill.