PRECLEARANCE AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2015
(House of Representatives - July 27, 2015)

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[Congressional Record Volume 161, Number 119 (Monday, July 27, 2015)]
[Pages H5495-H5497]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                 PRECLEARANCE AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 2015

  Mrs. MILLER of Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and 
pass the bill (H.R. 998) to establish the conditions under which the 
Secretary of Homeland Security may establish preclearance facilities, 
conduct preclearance operations, and provide customs services outside 
the United States, and for other purposes, as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 998

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Preclearance Authorization 
     Act of 2015''.

     SEC. 2. DEFINITION.

       In this Act, the term ``appropriate congressional 
     committees'' means the Committee on Homeland Security and the 
     Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives 
     and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental 
     Affairs and the Committee on Finance of the Senate.

     SEC. 3. ESTABLISHMENT OF PRECLEARANCE OPERATIONS.

       Pursuant to section 1629 of title 19, United States Code, 
     and subject to section 5, the Secretary of Homeland Security 
     may establish U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance 
     operations in a foreign country to--
       (1) prevent terrorists, instruments of terrorism, and other 
     security threats from entering the United States;
       (2) prevent inadmissible persons from entering the United 
     States;
       (3) ensure merchandise destined for the United States 
     complies with applicable laws;
       (4) ensure the prompt processing of persons eligible to 
     travel to the United States; and
       (5) accomplish such other objectives as the Secretary 
     determines necessary to protect the United States.

     SEC. 4. NOTIFICATION AND CERTIFICATION TO CONGRESS.

       (a) Notification.--Not later than 180 days before entering 
     into an agreement with the government of a foreign country to 
     establish U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance 
     operations in such foreign country, the Secretary of Homeland 
     Security shall provide to the appropriate congressional 
     committees the following:
       (1) A copy of the proposed agreement to establish such 
     preclearance operations, including an identification of the 
     foreign country with which U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
     intends to enter into a preclearance agreement, the location 
     at which such preclearance operations will be conducted, and 
     the terms and conditions for U.S. Customs and Border 
     Protection personnel operating at the location.
       (2) An estimate of the date on which U.S. Customs and 
     Border Protection intends to establish preclearance 
     operations under such agreement.
       (3) The anticipated funding sources for preclearance 
     operations under such agreement, and other funding sources 
     considered.
       (4) An assessment of the impact such preclearance 
     operations will have on legitimate trade and travel, 
     including potential impacts on passengers traveling to the 
     United States.
       (5) A homeland security threat assessment for the country 
     in which such preclearance operations are to be established.
       (6) An assessment of the impacts such preclearance 
     operations will have on U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
     domestic port of entry staffing.
       (7) Information on potential economic, competitive, and job 
     impacts on United States air carriers associated with 
     establishing such preclearance operations.
       (8) Information on the anticipated homeland security 
     benefits associated with establishing such preclearance 
     operations.
       (9) Information on potential security vulnerabilities 
     associated with commencing such preclearance operations, and 
     mitigation plans to address such potential security 
     vulnerabilities.
       (10) A U.S. Customs and Border Protection staffing model 
     for such preclearance operations, and plans for how such 
     positions would be filled.
       (11) Information on the anticipated costs over the next 
     five fiscal years associated with commencing such 
     preclearance operations.
       (12) A copy of the agreement referred to in subsection (a) 
     of section 5.
       (13) Other factors that the Secretary of Homeland Security 
     determines to be necessary for Congress to comprehensively 
     assess the appropriateness of commencing such preclearance 
     operations.
       (b) Certifications Relating to Preclearance Operations 
     Established at Airports.--In the case of an airport, in 
     addition to the notification requirements under subsection 
     (a), not later than 90 days before

[[Page H5496]]

     entering into an agreement with the government of a foreign 
     country to establish U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
     preclearance operations at an airport in such foreign 
     country, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall provide to 
     the appropriate congressional committees the following:
       (1) A certification that preclearance operations under such 
     preclearance agreement would provide homeland security 
     benefits to the United States.
       (2) A certification that preclearance operations within 
     such foreign country will be established under such agreement 
     only if--
       (A) at least one United States passenger carrier operates 
     at such airport; and
       (B) the access of all United States passenger carriers to 
     such preclearance operations is the same as the access of any 
     non-United States passenger carrier.
       (3) A certification that the Secretary of Homeland Security 
     has considered alternative options to preclearance operations 
     and has determined that such options are not the most 
     effective means of achieving the objectives specified in 
     section 3.
       (4) A certification that the establishment of preclearance 
     operations in such foreign country will not significantly 
     increase customs processing times at United States airports.
       (5) An explanation of other objectives that will be served 
     by the establishment of preclearance operations in such 
     foreign country.
       (6) A certification that representatives from U.S. Customs 
     and Border Protection consulted publically with interested 
     parties, including providers of commercial air service in the 
     United States, employees of such providers, security experts, 
     and such other parties as the Secretary determines to be 
     appropriate, before entering into such an agreement with such 
     foreign government.
       (7) A report detailing the basis for the certifications 
     referred to in paragraphs (1) through (6).
       (c) Modification of Existing Agreements.--Not later than 30 
     days before substantially modifying a preclearance agreement 
     with the government of a foreign country in effect as of the 
     date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Homeland 
     Security shall provide to the appropriate congressional 
     committees a copy of the proposed agreement, as modified, and 
     the justification for such modification.
       (d) Remediation Plan.--
       (1) In general.--The Commissioner of U.S. Customs and 
     Border Protection shall monthly measure the average customs 
     processing time to enter the 25 United States airports that 
     support the highest volume of international travel (as 
     determined by available Federal passenger data) and provide 
     to the appropriate congressional committees such 
     measurements.
       (2) Assessment.--Based on the measurements described in 
     paragraph (1), the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border 
     Protection shall quarterly assess whether the average customs 
     processing time referred to in such paragraph significantly 
     exceeds the average customs processing time to enter the 
     United States through a preclearance operation.
       (3) Submission.--Based on the assessment conducted under 
     paragraph (2), if the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border 
     Protection determines that the average customs processing 
     time referred to in paragraph (1) significantly exceeds the 
     average customs processing time to enter the United States 
     through a preclearance operation described in paragraph (2), 
     the Commissioner shall, not later than 60 days after making 
     such determination, provide to the appropriate congressional 
     committees a remediation plan for reducing such average 
     customs processing time referred to in paragraph (1).
       (4) Implementation.--Not later than 30 days after 
     submitting the remediation plan referred to in paragraph (3), 
     the Commissioner of United States Customs and Border 
     Protection shall implement those portions of such plan that 
     can be carried out using existing resources, excluding the 
     transfer of personnel.
       (5) Suspension.--If the Commissioner of U.S. Customs and 
     Border Protection does not submit the remediation plan 
     referred to in paragraph (3) within 60 days in accordance 
     with such paragraph, the Commissioner may not, until such 
     time as such remediation plan is submitted, conduct any 
     negotiations relating to preclearance operations at an 
     airport in any country or commence any such preclearance 
     operations.
       (6) Stakeholder recommendations.--The remediation plan 
     described in paragraph (3) shall consider recommendations 
     solicited from relevant stakeholders.
       (e) Classified Report.--The assessment required pursuant to 
     subsection (a)(5) and the report required pursuant to 
     subsection (b)(7) may be submitted in classified form if the 
     Secretary of Homeland Security determines that such is 
     appropriate.

     SEC. 5. AVIATION SECURITY SCREENING AT PRECLEARANCE AIRPORTS.

       (a) Aviation Security Standards Agreement.--Prior to the 
     commencement of preclearance operations at an airport in a 
     foreign country under this Act, the Administrator of the 
     Transportation Security Administration shall enter into an 
     agreement with the government of such foreign country that 
     delineates and requires the adoption of aviation security 
     screening standards that are determined by the Administrator 
     to be comparable to those of the United States.
       (b) Aviation Security Rescreening.--If the Administrator of 
     the Transportation Security Administration determines that 
     the government of a foreign country has not maintained 
     security standards and protocols comparable to those of the 
     United States at airports at which preclearance operations 
     have been established in accordance with an agreement entered 
     into pursuant to subsection (a), the Administrator shall 
     require the rescreening in the United States by the 
     Transportation Security Administration of passengers and 
     their property before such passengers may deplane into 
     sterile areas of airports in the United States.
       (c) Selectees.--Any passenger who is determined to be a 
     selectee based on a check against a terrorist watch list and 
     arrives on a flight originating from a foreign airport at 
     which preclearance operations have been established in 
     accordance with an agreement entered into pursuant to 
     subsection (a), shall be required to undergo security 
     rescreening by the Transportation Security Administration 
     before being permitted to board a domestic flight in the 
     United States.

     SEC. 6. LOST AND STOLEN PASSPORTS.

       The Secretary of Homeland Security may not enter into or 
     renew an agreement with the government of a foreign country 
     to establish or maintain U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
     preclearance operations at an airport in such foreign country 
     unless such government certifies--
       (1) that it routinely submits information about lost and 
     stolen passports of its citizens and nationals to INTERPOL's 
     Stolen and Lost Travel Document database; or
       (2) makes available to the United States Government such 
     information through another comparable means of reporting.

     SEC. 7. EFFECTIVE DATE.

       Except for subsection (c) of section 4, this Act shall 
     apply only to the establishment of preclearance operations in 
     a foreign country in which no preclearance operations have 
     been established as of the date of the enactment of this Act.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from 
Michigan (Mrs. Miller) and the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Vela) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Michigan.


                             General Leave

  Mrs. MILLER from Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that 
all Members have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend 
their remarks and include any extraneous material on the bill under 
consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentlewoman from Michigan?
  There was no objection.
  Mrs. MILLER from Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself as much time 
as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 998. Few issues 
actually have kept the CBP leadership busier over the last year than 
preclearance.
  Failure to properly consult with stakeholders on preclearance 
expansion at Abu Dhabi caused a lot of consternation on Capitol Hill 
and certainly in the Homeland Security Committee last Congress.
  This lack of appropriate congressional coordination and notification 
troubled many Members as well as the affected stakeholders, 
specifically, the airline industry.
  We now hope that the Department will keep Congress fully abreast of 
future plans, especially in light of their recent announcement of the 
intention to expand preclearance to ten additional locations.
  This bill, we believe, sets the groundwork for greater oversight and 
coordination on future preclearance operations.
  I certainly want to thank Mr. Meehan from Pennsylvania, who was 
actually a former member on the Homeland Security Committee, who raised 
concerns with the Department of Homeland Security preclearance 
operations early in the Abu Dhabi agreement process.
  His leadership has really been very, very important to the success of 
the legislation that we are considering today, Mr. Speaker.
  Certainly we support preclearance where it makes sense as well as 
other CBP efforts to push out the border, if you will.
  Preclearance has been an effective security screening and trade 
facilitation tool since the early 1950s, actually. Of course, since 9/
11, the security value of these operations has only been heightened.
  However, the mistakes of the Abu Dhabi agreement cannot be repeated. 
Expansion of preclearance must be done in such a way that it supports 
our security and does not disadvantage our domestic airlines.

[[Page H5497]]

  This bill was very carefully crafted after several oversight hearings 
and numerous consultations with the Department, the airline industry, 
and Members from both parties. It is a bipartisan bill.
  This bill sets the contours for future preclearance operations and 
incorporates a series of notifications and certifications, including a 
justification that outlines the Homeland Security benefit and impact to 
domestic staffing and wait times of any new preclearance operations.
  As well, this bill requires that Congress be notified in the event 
that Department of Homeland Security modifies or changes an existing 
agreement at any one of the 17 existing preclearance locations.
  Most importantly, we think, this bill makes very clear the Department 
of Homeland Security cannot establish new locations without conducting 
the due diligence that we in Congress expect.
  Mr. Speaker, we need to balance security operations and economic 
impact here at home.
  Finally, I would certainly like to thank Chairman Paul Ryan of the 
Ways and Means Committee and his staff for working to bring this 
important bill to the floor.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

                                      Committee on Ways and Means,


                                     House of Representatives,

                                    Washington, DC, July 16, 2015.
     Hon. Michael McCaul,
     Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security, Ford House Office 
         Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman McCaul, I am writing with respect to H.R. 
     998, the ``Preclearance Authorization Act of 2015.'' As a 
     result of your having consulted with us on provisions in H.R. 
     998 that fall within the Rule X jurisdiction of the Committee 
     on Ways and Means, I agree to waive consideration of this 
     bill so that it may proceed expeditiously to the House floor.
       The Committee on Ways and Means takes this action with the 
     mutual understanding that by forgoing consideration of H.R. 
     998 at this time, we do not waive any jurisdiction over the 
     subject matter contained in this or similar legislation, and 
     the Committee will be appropriately consulted and involved as 
     the bill or similar legislation moves forward so that we may 
     address any remaining issues that fall within our Rule X 
     jurisdiction. The Committee also reserves the right to seek 
     appointment of an appropriate number of conferees to any 
     House-Senate conference involving this or similar 
     legislation, and requests your support for such request.
       Finally, I would appreciate your response to this letter 
     confirming this understanding, and would ask that a copy of 
     our exchange of letters on this matter be included in the 
     Congressional Record during floor consideration thereof.
           Sincerely,
                                                     Paul D. Ryan,
     Chairman.
                                  ____

                                         House of Representatives,


                               Committee on Homeland Security,

                                    Washington, DC, July 20, 2015.
     Hon. Paul Ryan,
     Chairman, Committee on Ways and Means, Longworth House Office 
         Building, Washington, DC.
       Dear Chairman Ryan, Thank you for your letter regarding 
     H.R. 998, the ``Preclearance Authorization Act of 2015.'' I 
     appreciate your support in bringing this legislation before 
     the House of Representatives, and accordingly, understand 
     that the Committee on Ways and Means will forego 
     consideration of the bill.
       The Committee on Homeland Security concurs with the mutual 
     understanding that by foregoing consideration on this bill at 
     this time, the Committee on Ways and Means does not waive any 
     jurisdiction over the subject matter contained in this bill 
     or similar legislation in the future. In addition, should a 
     conference on this bill be necessary, I would support a 
     request by the Committee on Ways and Means for conferees on 
     those provisions within your jurisdiction.
       I will insert copies of this exchange in the Congressional 
     Record during consideration of this bill on the House floor. 
     I thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
           Sincerely,
                                                Michael T. McCaul,
                                                         Chairman.

  Mr. VELA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I rise in strong support of H.R. 998, the Preclearance Authorization 
Act of 2015.
  This bipartisan bill would authorize the Secretary of Homeland 
Security to establish U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance 
operations with 180 days' prior notification and certification to 
Congress that certain specified conditions exist.
  These conditions include that there are Homeland Security benefits 
for establishment of the preclearance location, a U.S. air carrier 
service serves the location, and establishment of the location will not 
significantly increase customs processing wait times in the United 
States.
  The bill would require all countries with preclearance locations to 
routinely submit information about lost and stolen passports of their 
citizens to INTERPOL's stolen and lost travel document database or make 
such information available to the U.S. through other means.
  H.R. 998 is intended to address many of the shortcomings in DHS' 
deployment of preclearance to Abu Dhabi last year and ensure that 
Congress receives appropriate notice prior to future expansion of the 
program to new locations.
  Similar legislation was passed by the House under suspension of the 
rules in July 2014, but no action was taken by the Senate. I urge my 
colleagues to support H.R. 998, sending it to the Senate for 
consideration in the 114th Congress.
  H.R. 998 will help ensure that expansion of the Department of 
Homeland Security's preclearance program enhances our Nation's 
security, facilitates legitimate travel to the United States, and does 
not disadvantage domestic air carriers or United States ports of entry.
  I thank Congresswoman Miller, the chairman of the Border and Maritime 
Security Subcommittee, for all of her efforts in bringing all these 
bills forward and for her strong bipartisan leadership.
  I urge my colleagues to support this bill, and I yield back the 
balance of my time.
  Mrs. MILLER from Michigan. Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to again 
indicate that these are bipartisan bills, the Homeland Security 
Committee bills that are coming forward on the floor.
  I really have appreciated the opportunity and look forward to 
continuing to work with my ranking member, Mr. Vela, shoulder to 
shoulder on so many of these important issues before our country today.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I would once again urge my colleagues to support 
this very strong bipartisan piece of legislation.
  I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentlewoman from Michigan (Mrs. Miller of Michigan) that the House 
suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 998, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________