Letter Opposing the Conference Report to H.R. 1, the "Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007"
July 27, 2007
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, strongly opposes the conference report to H.R. 1, the "Implementing the 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007." If enacted, the 100% scanning provisions of the legislation would have a crippling effect on global trade, without significantly improving security. The Chamber also objects to the creation of private sector preparedness standards that would impose costs and burdens on the business community without measurably improving preparedness.
The Chamber strongly opposes the requirement for 100% overseas scanning of maritime containers within five years. Section 1701 of H.R. 1 would require 100% scanning of all containerized cargo loaded onto vessels bound for the United States no later than July 1, 2012. This provision, which would effectively ban most cargo from foreign ports unless scanned overseas, would severely disrupt global supply chains and impairing the free flow of trade. Mandating 100% scanning would impose a unilateral mandate on our trading partners, and could result in reciprocal or retaliatory requirements being placed on American exporters. If foreign governments are unable or cannot afford to comply (i.e. less developed nations) trade with that country would effectively cease.
Additionally, the Chamber objects to provisions that would create government-sanctioned standards for private sector preparedness. Such a "one size fits all" approach would hinder, not advance, preparedness within the private sector. There are many sectors currently receiving attention from the private sector through voluntary best practices. The standards approach would cause significant cost and burden to businesses large and small, which currently benefit most from the flexibility of best practices and divert the focus away from the current and widely-accepted risk management approach to greater security and infrastructure protection. The standards approach would in many instances add confusion and regulatory complexity to already-heavily regulated industries.
Despite these concerns, the Chamber applauds the work of conferees on several areas of this legislation. Specifically, the Chamber supports the Visa Waiver Program provisions in the bill because it would increase the security of the program while allowing more U.S. allies to participate. In addition, the Chamber supports the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative provisions to require Department of Homeland Security to complete a cost-benefit analysis and conduct a study on how to reduce the fee for the new People Access Security System card.
Due to the 100% cargo scanning and Private Sector Preparedness provisions of this legislation, the Chamber strongly opposes H.R. 1. The Chamber may consider votes on, or in relation to, this issue in our annual How They Voted scorecard.
R. Bruce Josten