|4:26 PM EDT||
Bennie Thompson, D-MS 2nd
Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 3488, the Preclearance Authorization Act of 2014.
Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security decided to alter the focus of Customs and Border Protection's preclearance program from one aimed at passenger facilitation to one intended to enhance security--or, at least, that is what we were told when a bipartisan group of Members led by Representatives MEEHAN and DEFAZIO began asking hard questions about why a preclearance facility was being opened in Abu Dhabi, an airport at which no U.S. flag carriers operate.
Since preclearance operations commenced in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, representatives from DHS, including Secretary Johnson, have repeatedly stated that they are looking to expand the program to other high-risk overseas airports. Enactment of H.R. 3488 would ensure that, before DHS entered into another preclearance agreement, thoughtful consideration is given to the potential homeland security benefits of such an expansion, as well as the potential impacts to CBP staff at domestic ports of
entry. Importantly, the bill also requires DHS to report to Congress on the potential economic, competitive, and job-related impacts opening such a facility would have on United States air carriers.
During committee consideration of the bill, an amendment that I offered was accepted that would require any passenger arriving in the U.S. who is determined to be a selectee to undergo security rescreening by the Transportation Security Administration before being permitted to board a domestic flight in the United States. This provision would ensure that any traveler that is determined to be potentially dangerous undergoes security screening on U.S. soil before being allowed to board a domestic
Finally, the bill prohibits the opening of a new preclearance facility unless at least one United States passenger carrier operates at the airport where preclearance operations would be established. This provision will ensure that we do not see a repeat of the circumstances surrounding the opening of the preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi, where a foreign airline was provided a significant competitive advantage over U.S. carriers.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to vote ``yes'' on H.R. 3488, the Preclearance Authorization Act of 2014.