CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Tuesday, December 6, 2015, the House will consider H.R. 875, the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2016, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 875 was introduced on February 11, 2015, by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, in addition to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Homeland Security, and the Committee on Agriculture.
H.R. 875 provides Custom and Border Protection with the authority to negotiate alternative financing arrangements for the provision of certain services and the construction and maintenance of infrastructure at land ports of entry. Specifically, the bill authorizes the Commissioner and the Administrator of General Services to enter into cost-sharing agreements for the construction of maintenance of a new or existing CBP or GSA facility or accept donations of real or personal property or nonpersonal services for use in the construction or maintenance of such facilities.
CBP is the Federal law enforcement agency responsible for facilitating international travel and trade at our nation’s ports of entry. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, CBP processed more than 382 million passengers at the nation’s 328 land, sea, and air ports of entry and over $2.4 trillion worth of goods. CBP estimates that inbound trade and traffic will exceed these numbers in FY16 and beyond, but staffing and funding have relatively stayed the same.
To address the staffing and funding needs at ports of entry, Congress created pilot programs in 2013 and 2014 to provide alternative funding sources for CBP at ports of entry. Section 560 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 authorized CBP to enter into agreements with private sector and state and local government entities that would reimburse CBP for customs-related personnel services at ports of entry. This allowed non-Federal entities that operate CBP ports of entry to pay for additional officers beyond what CBP normally would have allocated. Section 559 of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 authorized an additional five agreements per year with air ports of entry, for a total cap of 10 per year. Applicable services for reimbursable service agreements were also expanded to include border security services and agricultural processing. Both pilot programs were authorized for five years.
Since 2013, CBP has entered into reimbursable service agreements with 29 stakeholders at land, sea, and air ports of entry. These agreements have contributed to more than 125,000 additional processing hours to meet stakeholder demand during which 3 million travelers and almost 460,000 vehicles were processed. These agreements with air ports of entry contributed to decreased wait times by an average of nearly 30 percent at ports where they were implemented. CBP may have been able to approve more of these agreements had the agency not been limited in statute to executing only 10 agreements per year at air ports of entry. CBP identified expanding its Section 559 program public-private partnership authority as a way ‘‘to fund enhanced CBP services and implement new funding streams for current programs.’’
Similar legislation, S. 461, passed the Senate on November 29, 2016. In addition, the House passed related legislation by voice vote earlier this year (H.R. 3586, as amended).
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate for H.R. 875 is not currently available. However, CBO estimates that similar legislation that passed the Senate, S. 461, could affect direct spending by increasing offsetting receipts from donations and fee agreements as well as the associated direct spending of those funds. Therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures apply. CBO further estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.