HSGAC to Vote on Jeh Johnson Nomination
On Wednesday, November 20, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on the nomination of Jeh Johnson to be the next Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Both Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Tom Coburn (R-OK) support his nomination, and Chairman Carper noted that Johnson has already been confirmed twice by the Senate for the positions of U.S. Air Force Chief Counsel and Department of Defense Chief Counsel. However, he received sharp questioning from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who stated that he could not support the nomination until Johnson provided more figures on illegal border crossings. If the committee votes to approve Johnson as is expected, it is also unclear whether Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) will follow through on his threat to put a hold all executive nominees until he is given access to transcripts of FBI interviews with witnesses to the Benghazi terrorist attacks.
Biometric Exit Costs
Officials from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) have testified before the House Judiciary Committee that they calculate the cost of implementing a biometric exit tracking system for all U.S. air and sea ports to cost between $400-$600 million, which is far lower than the $3 billion cost that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have provided to Congress. CIS and other private sector representatives argue that CBP’s costs are inflated because the agency is relying on old cost projections that were calculated based on outdated technology. The debate over the cost of a biometric exit tracking system will be important because DHS officials have cited cost as a major hurdle in implementing the system.
This Week’s Hearings:
- Monday, November 18: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will hold a full committee hearing titled “The Opportunities and Risks of Virtual Currencies,” featuring panelists from across law enforcement.
- Tuesday, November 19: The House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security will hold a hearing titled “Maritime Border Security.”
- Wednesday, November 20: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee will vote on the nomination of Jeh Johnson to be DHS Secretary.
- Wednesday, November 20: The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Efficiency and Effectiveness on Federal Programs and the Federal Workforce will hold a hearing titled “Safeguarding Our Nation’s Secrets: Examining the National Security Workforce.”
CBP Regulations Criticized
CBP regulations requiring shippers to list cargo residues in maritime, aviation, and overland tanks and containers entering the United States are scheduled to go into effect on Monday, November 25, but shippers may have succeeded in securing a delay in implementation. These regulations would require shippers list these cargo residues before CBP will declare the containers empty and release them to be used again. However, shippers, especially overland oil and chemical shippers across the U.S.-Mexico border, have complained that requiring advance container cleaning before entry in order to avoid detailed residue listings will add substantial costs and time delays that would impact the whole supply chain. As a result, a number of freight industry associations sent a protest letter to DHS Acting Secretary Rand Beers to postpone implementation of the regulations and either limit the implementation to four test ports or allow Congress to enact authorizing legislation.