|4:30 PM EDT||
Michael McCaul, R-TX 10th
Mr. McCAUL. Mr. Speaker, I would first like to commend the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Meehan) for his hard work and leadership on this issue, this bill. He rallied more than 150 Members of Congress--no small feat in this institution--to express his concern over the way the DHS preclearance operations in Abu Dhabi were set up last year. The commonsense bill before us today should be supported by every Member of this body. Pushing out the border through operations like preclearance
allows Customs and Border Protection to identify and intercept threats, including dangerous people and cargo, long before they ever reach our shores. So it is a noble concept.
Preclearance facilities have served America's interests by facilitating secure trade and travel since the 1950s. Since 9/11, the security value of these facilities has only increased.
However, I share the concerns of many of my colleagues regarding the rollout of a preclearance facility that was recently established in Abu Dhabi, which was the first such facility set up after 9/11. The process by which CBP announced and created this facility was not transparent, raising several questions about the suitability of that location.
I recently had the opportunity to visit this preclearance facility in Abu Dhabi on a delegation that I led to the region, and I came away convinced that there is real security value in putting our CBP officers overseas. However, I think it is appropriate that Congress weigh in on how we go about establishing future preclearance operations, given the controversy and mismanaged rollout of Abu Dhabi.
This bill strengthens the homeland security elements of preclearance operations by requiring that comparable aviation security screening standards are in place prior to beginning preclearance operations. It would also require rescreening of passengers and cargo if security standards are not maintained overseas.
This bill takes steps to reduce the potential for missteps by requiring a series of notifications and certifications to the Congress long before new preclearance facilities are established. Under the requirements of this bill, DHS must now certify that future facilities serve the national interests, stakeholders must be properly consulted, and U.S. airlines must have equal access to locations under consideration. This legislation we are considering is a result of extensive consultation with industry,
the Department itself, and Members from both parties.
Again, I want to thank Chairman MEEHAN for his hard work and oversight on this important program. I want to thank the ranking member of the full committee, Bennie Thompson, and the ranking member of the subcommittee for, once again, on our committee, showing great bipartisanship to get the will of the people done in this House.