FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 14, 2014
AFTER SENATOR’S PUSH, SCHUMER ANNOUNCES THAT CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION WILL GET $165 MILLION BOOST TO HIRE 2,000 NEW AGENTS NATIONWIDE – LAST WEEK, SCHUMER SECURED COMMITMENT FROM DHS SECRETARY TO PRIORITIZE PEACE BRIDGE FOR NEW AGENTS
Schumer Reveals that FY2104 Appropriations for CBP Contains $165 Million More than FY2013, Specifically For Training of 2,000 New Agents Nationwide –Schumer Just Secured Commitment from Secretary Jeh Johnson That Portion of New Agents Will Go to Peace Bridge
After CBP Confirmed that Wait Times at the Peace Bridge Have Jumped, Schumer Pushed to Boost FY2014 CBP Funding To Help Ensure Truck & Car Inspection Move Smoothly
Schumer: Peace Bridge is an Economic Artery for Western New York That Pumps in Vital Investment and Job Growth into Western New York – More Agents Will Get it Flowing Faster
Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations bill has boosted the funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) by $165.7 million in order for the agency to hire 2,000 new agents nationwide. Specifically, the bill increases CBP’s overall budget to $10.6 billion, which is over $220 million more than FY2013. Schumer explained that $165.7 million of the new funding was explicitly prescribed “for the purpose of hiring, training, and equipping new U.S. customs and border protection offices.” A portion of these new agents and resources will be prioritized for the Peace Bridge thanks to a commitment Schumer secured from Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson on Friday, January 10th.
Last month, after Schumer stood at the Peace Bridge and called for more information on delays and lane closures, CBP confirmed to Schumer that wait times have indeed increased through 2013. Schumer therefore fought to boost funding for CBP in the appropriations process and prioritize those funds for sites like the Peace Bridge, by weighing in with DHS Secretary Johnson. More agents at the Peace Bridge means more lanes will remain open during the day, cutting down on wait times and congestion, and increasing commerce across the bridge. This boost in agents will help ensure that passenger and commercial vehicles are inspected more efficiently, particularly as part of the commercial pre-inspection pilot program set to begin this month.
“Western New York’s local and elected leaders have made great strides in recent years to speed the flow of traffic and pre-inspection of trucks at the Peace Bridge, but those efforts are useless if there are not enough border agents to execute the plans,” said Senator Schumer. “The Peace Bridge is an economic artery for Western New York, pumping in vital investment and job growth; but CBP understaffing has blocked those benefits by closing lanes, increasing congestion at the bridge and slowing down economic activity. But this boost in funding, combined with Secretary Johnson’s commitment to send new agents to the Peace Bridge, will speed commerce, grow jobs and ensure that the preclearance pilot moves forward at full steam.”
Because the current continuing resolution that funds the federal government expires Wednesday, January 15th, Congress will first take up and pass a 3-day short-term extension of the continuing resolution. This allows time for the House of Representatives and Senate to pass the larger omnibus appropriations bill that was released on Monday night and already agreed to by both houses of Congress.
Schumer has long advocated for the proper staffing of the Peace Bridge: to keep commerce flowing – unimpeded by congestion – into Western New York, and to ensure that the forthcoming preclearance pilot is successful. In the beginning of December, Schumer stood at the Peace Bridge and called on the federal government to address reported wait time increases at the crossing, and called on the CBP to provide information related to those increases. The CBP then released the following information to Schumer:
Average Peak Wait Times:
· Commercial Vehicles = 29.4 minutes in FY13, up from 21.2 minutes in FY12
· Passenger Vehicles = 26.4 minutes in FY13, up from 17.9 minutes in FY12
Average Wait Times:
· Commercial Vehicles = 6.2 minutes in FY13, up from 3.2 minutes in FY12
· Passenger Vehicles = 5.9 minutes in FY13, up from 3.1 minutes in FY12
In response, Schumer urged his colleagues to boost funding for the Customs and Border Protection in the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriations bill, above the current 2013 levels and called Secretary Johnson to make sure that if funding was increased, the Peace Bridge would see more agents. Today, Schumer announced that the appropriations agreement called for $165.7 million to hire 2,000 new agents nationwide.
On December 2nd, Schumer stood at the Frank Lloyd Wright's Fontana Boathouse in Buffalo and called on the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agency to explain why recent lane closures have become more frequent, and urged the agency to boost border agents at the Bridge. According to local border and Peace Bridge Authority officials at the time, cutbacks in border agents have been significant and wait times and lane closures have increased. Some estimated that as many as 60 agents have been cut from the Buffalo Border in the past 18 months.
Schumer said that a properly staffed Buffalo border increases the potential benefits of progress being made at the U.S. plaza and with commercial vehicle pre-inspection. According to the University of Southern California’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE) April 2013 report, for every additional agent at a US Port of Entry the local economy sees a $2 million boost and 33 new jobs – a statistic that CBP cites regularly.