Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy:
As the Committee prepares to mark up the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations bill, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urges you to consider the following recommendations, which would promote business and economic growth, improve security, and facilitate cross-border trade and travel. Given the need to restrain overall federal spending and the discretionary spending caps currently in effect, the Chamber urges you to focus federal resources on projects and activities that offer the greatest potential to contribute to an environment conducive to stronger economic growth.
The Chamber supports funding U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for additional customs officers at the ports of entry to improve security, trade, and travel facilitation. The dual role of CBP is to secure the homeland and facilitate trade and travel. Commercial and pedestrian crossings suffer from understaffing, which increases wait times, costs industry billions, and discourages travelers and trade from approaching the border. Investing in staffing at the ports of entry would enhance security and consumer safety, facilitate trade, and improve travel for the millions of business and leisure travelers entering the U.S. every year.
Travel and tourism is critical to business and U.S. economic growth. It is essential that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have sufficient resources—including additional staffing, overtime flexibility, technology, PreCheck marketing support, and canine teams—to appropriately secure and facilitate the legitimate movement of air travelers. It is abundantly clear that wait times at airports are dramatically impacting travel and tourism, and Congress should do all it can in working with the TSA to develop effective staffing models and adopt emerging technology for risk-based security strategies to minimize congestion.
The Chamber supports full funding to maintain and improve of the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and the International Trade Data System (ITDS) single window. These programs have the potential to significantly decrease the transaction cost of trade, open trade to small- and medium-sized businesses, and improve targeting capabilities for government. The Chamber urges Congress to provide appropriate funding for the government to support these programs.
The Chamber supports funding for the following programs: funding of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, including the Automated Indicator Sharing capability; increased funding for implementing the Support Anti-terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies Act of 2002 (SAFETY Act) program within the Science and Technology Directorate; and funding of the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program.
The Chamber also supports dedicated funding for intellectual property enforcement to CBP, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). Economic analysis of resources invested in IPR enforcement has shown that every dollar spent on federal IPR enforcement efforts generates four dollars in increased tax revenues through increased jobs and economic growth. Counterfeits, and more recently, counterfeits traveling through low-value, small parcel shipments, also pose a health and safety risk. The work of ICE and CBP, individually and through coordination with other agencies engaged at the IPR Center, has been recognized and praised for its energy and effectiveness.
The Chamber appreciates your consideration of these recommendations as you mark up the Fiscal Year 2019 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.
Neil L. Bradley
cc: Members of the Committee on Appropriations