Letter on markup of Fiscal Year 2017 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill | U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Letter on markup of Fiscal Year 2017 Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Tuesday, May 24, 2016 - 8:45am

The Honorable John Hoeven
Chairman

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen
Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Homeland Security 
Committee on Appropriations 
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Hoeven and Ranking Member Shaheen:

As the Subcommittee prepares to mark up the Fiscal Year 2017 Homeland Security
Appropriations bill, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation
representing the interests of more than three million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions,
as well as state and local chambers and industry associations, and dedicated to promoting,
protecting, and defending America’s free enterprise system, urges you to consider the following
recommendations, which would promote business and economic growth, improve security, and
facilitate cross-border trade and travel.

The dual role of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is to secure the homeland
and facilitate trade and travel. The Chamber supports funding CBP for additional customs
officers at the ports of entry to improve security, trade, and travel facilitation. Over the past five
years, a disproportionate amount of funding has been designated for increasing staffing of border
patrol officers between the ports of entry. The Chamber has supported these efforts; however,
more funding needs to be designated towards customs officers at the port of entry. 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, 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
risk-based security strategies to minimize congestion. Airlines and airports have invested
dramatically to ensure the safety and convenience for their customers. Government needs to step
forward to ensure both safety and convenience materializes for the millions of air travelers daily,
and staff airports appropriately to meet demand.

The Chamber supports full funding for the completion of the Automated Commercial
Environment (ACE) and the International Trade Data System (ITDS) single window. The ACE
program would replace the Automated Commercial System (ACS), a decades old system with
limited capabilities that requires significant financial support to maintain. This is not only
operationally inefficient for government, but also hurts the competitiveness of U.S. businesses.
Completing these programs would 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 commit to fund the program in line with the President’s budget request.

The Chamber also supports funding for IP 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. 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 2017 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.

Sincerely,

R. Bruce Josten

cc: Members of the Subcommittee on Homeland Security