Dear Chair DeLauro and Ranking Member Granger:
As the Committee prepares to mark up the Fiscal Year 2022 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 resilience, and facilitate cross-border trade and travel.
Customs and Border Protection (CBP): The Chamber supports $172 million for additional customs officers, agricultural specialists, and support personnel that would facilitate the movement of goods and people at America’s ports of entry. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) staffing needs are hampering its ability to keep pace with the long-term growth in trade and tourists at our ports of entry and this funding demonstrates the Committee’s commitment to supporting cross border economic growth, consumer safety, and security.
Further, the Chamber continues to support funding CBP initiatives that will modernize security and trade processes, including programs like the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) and the International Trade Data System (ITDS) single window that will help decrease the transaction cost of trade, open trade to small- and medium-sized businesses, and improve targeting capabilities for government. We urge Congress to continue supporting CBP and to provide appropriate funding to strengthen these programs.
The Chamber also urges the Committee to continue monitoring the funding shortfall due to the drop-in fees collected at ports of entry. We are concerned that this funding shortfall will result in service disruptions at ports of entry, especially as we move into the fall and the holiday season. Ports of entry are critical conduits to trade and tourism and service disruptions at these ports will pose new and unwelcome challenges to a recovering economy, while also increasing security and consumer safety risks. It is critical that Congress act to ensure no service interruptions at our ports of entry.
Transportation Security Administration (TSA): Travel and tourism are critical to both business and U.S. economic growth. While the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact travel and tourism, the Chamber supports providing resources to the TSA —including additional staffing, overtime flexibility, technology, “Pre-Check” 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 $7.6 billion in funding for TSA.
Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA): The Chamber supports the $2.1 billion budget request for CISA. CISA plays an increasingly critical role in facilitating the development of tools, resources, and best practices to improve America’s cybersecurity posture and it has provided critical leadership as the United States’ risk advisor in responding to several high-profile cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and public entities. However, we continue to urge Congress to appropriate funds above the $650 million already appropriated to CISA in the American Rescue Package and above the $110 million increase included in the administration’s FY22 budget request. These funds would aid CISA secure today and defend America tomorrow from urgent operational risks to our public and private sectors.
SAFETY Act: The Chamber supports increasing funding for the DHS-administered SAFETY Act Program, housed within the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Science and Technology Directorate, to $16 million for FY 2022 from $10 million in FY 2021. Over roughly the past three years, SAFETY Act applications have significantly increased in both number and complexity. Applications, including both full applications and pre-applications, are increasing each year at a projected rate of 10% (there were a total of 244 applications in FY 2019, with 280 applications projected for all of FY 2021), while program funding has stayed static (increasing less than one quarter of one percent from FY 2019 until today). DHS application reviews, instead of looking at just a single piece of technology/hardware, now must consider entire security services and best practices for organizations such as sporting venues. Such a thorough approach has led to a significant gap in resources to implement the program.
The Chamber has a long history of supporting the SAFETY Act—which seeks to ensure that the threat of liability does not deter manufacturers or sellers of antiterrorism technologies from developing and commercializing technologies that save lives and protect property—since its enactment in 2002. The SAFETY Act is changing the face of U.S. economic and national security by attracting and amplifying industry investment in this enduring mission space. Through FY 2020, the SAFETY Act Program has approved more than 1,100 applications, totaling more than $5.7 billion in projected annual technology revenue for SAFETY Act protections. The SAFETY Act has also supported more than 135,595 private sector jobs, including small and large businesses.
U.S. Coast Guard: The Chamber commends the committee’s prior year commitment to begin recapitalization of the U.S. Coast Guard heavy polar icebreaking fleet. Accordingly, the Chamber fully endorses the FY22 budget request for $597 million for acquisition of the second Polar Security Cutter (PSC). Overall, this new ship class will provide assured maritime presence at the highest and lowest latitudes in support of U.S. national and economic security.
U.S. Secret Service: The Chamber supports increased funding for the United States Secret Service and their Cyber and Fraud Task Force’s (ECTF) to enhance their efforts to combat cybercrime (including ransomware), fraud, terrorism, and espionage.
Intellectual Property Enforcement: The Chamber also supports full 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.
Lastly, small, and seasonal businesses across America are concerned about their ability to meet their workforce needs as the economy recovers. The Chamber supports the inclusion of measures that will provide cap relief for the employers of H-2B nonimmigrants that will provide these businesses with the ability to meet their seasonal workforce needs during the economic recovery.
Meeting the challenges of securing America’s borders from all types of threats and facilitating safe travel, tourism and trade with our neighbors are equally important to the Chamber and its members. The Chamber appreciates your consideration of these recommendations as you mark up the Fiscal Year 2022 Homeland Security Appropriations bill.
Neil L. Bradley
cc: Members of the House Committee on Appropriations