The House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday authorized the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to spend $6.2 billion in fiscal 2005 and $6.5 billion in fiscal 2006.
The bill also puts some non-financial requirements on Customs. The agency, as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement, must create a cost-accounting system that can differentiate between money spent on commercial and non-commercial operations.
Once the cost-accounting system is in operation, the bill calls on the General Accounting Office to study Customs user fees to see if they approximate the level of services provided.
Customs also must make reports by Sept. 30, 2005 and the same date in 2006 on the effectiveness of the "One Face at the Border" initiative that Customs created to integrate customs, immigration and agricultural inspection functions at ports of entry.
The bill also includes a "sense of Congress" provision that urges Customs to give broad interpretation to preferential treatment of textiles and apparel imported from Africa, Caribbean and Andean nations.
While this bill moves on to consideration by the House, there is no similar bill currently in the Senate. A Senate Finance Committee spokeswoman said that the Senate may not bring the bill up until September, after the congressional summer recess.