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Customs Authorization, Pre-Clearance Bills Advance in House

Friday, June 13, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The House Homeland Security Committee approved June 10 legislation to formally authorize U.S. Customs and Border Protection and regulate its ability to conduct preclearance activities overseas.

According to Border and Maritime Security Subcommittee Chairman Candice Miller, R-Mich., the CBP Authorization Act (H.R. 3846) formally authorizes CBP and clarifies the border, maritime and transportation security missions of the Department of Homeland Security for the first time since DHS was created in 2002. The border security statutory authority granted in the Homeland Security Act has spread over several agencies and organizations since that time, Miller said, “and in essence, Congress has never authorized CBP to perform the missions it does today.” Miller added that H.R. 3846 “is essential to ensuring that CBP has the congressional and legal backing it needs to protect its tandem mission of trade facilitation and border security.”

The committee also passed H.R. 3488, which sets the conditions under which DHS may establish preclearance facilities, conduct preclearance operations and provide customs services outside the U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan, R-Pa., said the measure is intended to block the opening of a CBP pre-clearance facility at the Abu Dhabi international airport in the United Arab Emirates. This facility would allow travelers coming to the U.S. to clear customs before their arrival, but currently the only airline with regular service from Abu Dhabi to the U.S. is the state-run airline of the UAE, Etihad. Meehan asserted that opening this facility would give Etihad a competitive advantage as travelers choose to route themselves through the Abu Dhabi airport to undergo preclearance.

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