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American Shipper

SENATE REJECTS TREASURY-POSTAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL; ACE LOBBY CONTINUES

CN EXPANDS ROADRAILER SERVICE TO TORONTO/CHICAGO

   The U.S. Senate may have rejected the House version of the Treasury-Postal Appropriations bill, but it hasn’t dampened the spirit of industry officials who want to see Congress begin to fund Customs’ future computer system.

   The bill, which contains $130 million to begin building Customs’ Automated Commercial Environment, had narrowly passed the House on Sept. 14.

   “The bill has been in trouble all along,” said Jon H. Kent, Washington representative for the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America. “But it’s rejection has nothing to do with ACE.”

   The Senate disagreed with several amendments to the bill, including an election year raise for lawmakers. Even if the bill had passed the Congress, President Clinton was expected to veto it, because it didn’t contain enough funding to restructure the Internal Revenue Service, build new courthouses and enhance antiterrorism programs.

   “Although the bill was rejected, there’s still a strong likelihood for ACE to be funded,” Kent said. Many of the Treasury-Postal Appropriation bill’s provisions, such as Customs automation funding, may have to be included in a year-end funding resolution.

   The Coalition for Customs Automation Funding, which includes hundreds of importers, exporters, forwarders, customs brokers and industry associations, plans to continue pressuring Capitol Hill to fund ACE.

   “We have no belief that it will fail,” said Alan Atkinson, spokesman for the Joint Industry Group, a member of the coalition. “The (ACE) funding will go through.”

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