August 06,2009

Baucus, Grassley Introduce Bill to Strengthen Customs Facilitation, Enforcement

Legislation reprioritizes trade within customs agencies

Washington, D.C. – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today introduced legislation to strengthen customs facilitation and trade enforcement efforts within the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009 establishes new high-level trade positions within CBP and ICE, directs CBP and ICE to dedicate resources to customs facilitation and trade enforcement and creates tools to strengthen the agencies’ trade enforcement efforts.

"Customs facilitation and trade enforcement are vital to America’s economic security," Baucus said. "CBP and ICE have not focused sufficient resources on their trade missions and this bill would direct them to do so. It would give these agencies the resources and tools they need to better enforce our customs and trade laws so legitimate goods enter our country quickly, and harmful goods or goods that infringe intellectual property rights stay out."

“Chairman Baucus and I have been working since 2006 to reauthorize customs functions,” Grassley said. “We introduced a bill then that contributed to the enactment of the SAFE Port Act of 2006. Since then, we’ve directed the Finance Committee’s oversight of the commercial operations of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of the Treasury. Today’s bill reflects the product of that oversight. The Customs and Border Protection and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies do important work. This legislation will help them to accomplish their commercial missions by strengthening the accountability and prioritization of commercial customs functions, even as they continue to protect homeland security. I look forward to working with the Chairman to move this legislation through the Senate this year.”

The Customs Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Reauthorization Act of 2009 reauthorizes CBP and ICE and provides new tools and direction they need to significantly strengthen customs facilitation and trade enforcement efforts. The bill creates new high-level positions, including a Principal Deputy Commissioner and an Assistant Commissioner of Trade, devoted exclusively to CBP's customs facilitation and trade enforcement efforts. It requires CBP and ICE to coordinate with other federal agencies to enforce U.S. trade laws at our borders and prevent unsafe or infringing goods from crossing our borders.

The legislation also directs CBP to provide additional trade benefits to participants in voluntary trade compliance and supply chain security programs in order to facilitate the flow of legitimate goods across our borders.

The Finance Committee has sole jurisdiction over international trade.

A staff summary of the bill can be viewed in the printer-friendly version of the release.