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Preclearance Authorization Act of 2014

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 3488, the Preclearance Authorization Act of 2014.

As a Member who represents a major international airport, I had deep reservations about the Department of Homeland Security's decision to open a preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi earlier this year. I was concerned about the prospect that limited Customs and Border Protection personal resources would be diverted from domestic airports like Newark Liberty International Airport to overseas posts, which could result in wait times for clearing customs exceeding anyone's definition of reasonable. I also had concerns about DHS' decision to conduct preclearance at an overseas airport where U.S. carriers do not have a presence, thus giving a competitive advantage to a foreign-owned airline.

H.R. 3488 addresses both of my concerns. Regarding customs processing times, the bill requires DHS to certify to Congress that the establishment of preclearance operations in an additional country will not significantly increase processing times at airports in the United States. As for opening preclearance facilities at airports where U.S. carriers do not operate, this bill would prohibit DHS from doing so going forward.

United States airlines and the jobs they create and support across the country are critical to our economy. Efforts to ``push out our borders'' for security reasons must not come at the expense of the competitiveness of U.S.-owned and -operated airlines. I commend the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Meehan) for recognizing this fact and for bringing forth this legislation before us today.

If enacted, H.R. 3488 will result in stricter requirements as well as enhanced oversight and accountability regarding how DHS decides to expand preclearance operations.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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Mr. PAYNE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, as you heard, H.R. 3488 enjoys the support of members of the Committee on Homeland Security. Indeed, this bill has a bipartisan collection of 154 cosponsors.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members to support H.R. 3488, the Preclearance Authorization Act of 2014, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Mr. MEEHAN. Mr. Speaker, I want to express my deep appreciation to my colleagues from both sides of the aisle for responding so collectively to the importance of this issue.

First and foremost, the principle that I think we stand for on both sides of the aisle is, when important issues like this are raised, that there be appropriate consultation with Congress and an appropriate understanding of the clear articulation by Homeland Security of the benefit that they expect to reach.

As the chairman has identified, once he visited Abu Dhabi, he came away convinced that there was a benefit. But the idea that that would not have been shared with us prior to entering that agreement is one of the critical things that we want to see addressed by this legislation.

But it is also the inability of the Department to appreciate or to take into consideration the impact that this will have, that it may have, and, in fact, it will have when there is no United States airline flying from Abu Dhabi. And the competitive disadvantage of that, which is generated by the fact that individuals who choose to fly the foreign airline currently get right into our country once they get into the preclearance facility, while those on American airlines coming into the same airport will wait in long lines. It creates a competitive disadvantage and the real possibility of a loss of American jobs.

Mr. Speaker, I urge all Members to join me in supporting this bill, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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