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[Congressional Record: January 22, 2001 (Senate)]
[Page S356-S406]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

[[Page S356]]

      By Mr. Gramm (for himself, Mrs. Hutchison, Mr. Bingaman, Mr. 
        Domenici, Mr. Kyl, Mr. McCain, and Mrs.  Boxer):
  S. 92. A bill to authorize appropriations for the United States 
Customs Service for fiscal years 2002 and 2003, and for other purposes; 
to the Committee on Finance.

                       PROTECTION OF U.S. BORDERS

  Mr. GRAMM. Mr. President, on behalf of Senators Hutchison, Bingaman, 
Domenici, Kyl, McCain, and Boxer, I am introducing legislation today 
which will authorize the United States Customs Service to acquire the 
necessary personnel and technology to reduce delays at our border 
crossings with Mexico and Canada to no more than 20 minutes, while 
strengthening our commitment to interdict illegal narcotics and other 
  This bill represents the progress that we made in this regard in the 
last Congress, and it builds on efforts that we first initiated in the 
105th Congress. This legislation passed the Senate unanimously on 
August 5, 1999, and a similar bill passed the House of Representatives 
on May 25, 1999, by a vote of 410-2. In addition to the resources 
dedicated to our nation's land borders, this bill also incorporates the 
efforts of Senators Grassley and Graham in adding resources for 
interdiction efforts in the air and along our coastline, provisions 
that were passed by the Senate in last year's bill.
  I am very concerned about the impact of narcotics trafficking on 
Texas and the nation and have worked closely with federal and state law 
enforcement officials to identify and secure the necessary resources to 
battle the onslaught of illegal drugs. At the same time, however, our 
current enforcement strategy is burdened by insufficient staffing, a 
gross underuse of vital interdiction technology, and is effectively 
closing the door to legitimate trade.
  At a time when NAFTA and the expanding world marketplace are making 
it possible for us to create more commerce, freedom and opportunity for 
people on both sides of the border, it is important that we eliminate 
the border crossing delays that are stifling these goals. In order for 
all Americans to fully enjoy the benefits of growing trade with Mexico 
and Canada, we must ensure that the Customs Service has the resources 
necessary to accomplish its mission. Customs inspections should not be 
obstacles to legitimate trade and commerce. Customs staffing needs to 
be increased significantly to facilitate the flow of substantially 
increased traffic on both the Southwestern and Northern borders, and 
these additional personnel need the modern technology that will allow 
them to inspect more cargo, more efficiently. The practical effect of 
these increases will be to open all the existing primary inspection 
lanes where congestion is a problem during peak hours and to enhance 
investigative capabilities on the Southwest border.
  Long traffic lines at our international crossings are 
counterproductive to improving our trade relationship with Mexico and 
Canada. This bill is designed to shorten those lines and promote 
legitimate commerce, while providing the customs Service with the means 
necessary to tackle the drug trafficking operations that are now 
rampant along the 1,200-mile border that my State shares with Mexico. I 
will be speaking further to my colleagues about this initiative and 
urge their support for this bill.

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