Buffalo, NY (WBEN) The federal budget bill approved last night, calls for an increase in funding by $220 million to Customs and Border Protection. Congressman Brian Higgins and Senator Chuck Schumer say this will lead to the hiring of more agents.
“This economic benefits of sufficiently staffing the border and supporting the efficient flow of people and goods cannot be understated,” said Congressman Higgins. “Opening up the door to our northern border opens up new opportunities for Western New York’s economy. This budget will complement other efforts already underway to alleviate congestion and add certainty at our border crossings.”
In the bill, CBP is budgeted at $10.6 billion, up $220.4 million from fiscal year 2013 levels and includes language that specifically states that “$165,715,000 shall be available until September 30, 2015, solely for the purpose of hiring, training, and equipping new U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at ports of entry."
The Peace Bridge, Lewiston Bridge and Rainbow Bridge all saw an increase in delays from 2012 to 2013. At the Peace Bridge wait times nearly doubled.
This month a pilot project to pre-inspect U.S. bound trucks on the Canadian side of the border will begin. The effort, included in the binational Beyond the Border initiative, is also aimed at reducing bridge congestion. A State project is also underway to enhance the plaza, further easing the border bottleneck.