U.S. industry fights cargo screening plan

April 26, 2006 at 1:33 PM

WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- A coalition of industry groups is trying to prevent all imports to the United States being screened at foreign ports.

The coalition is mounting an aggressive lobbying campaign to persuade Republicans on the Homeland Security Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to oppose an amendment that would require all cargo to be scanned at foreign ports before being shipped to the United States.

The amendment will be introduced by Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass, when the committee meets Wednesday to mark up a major bipartisan port security bill, CongressDaily reported Tuesday.

The coalition includes several of the nation's largest business groups, retailers and importers, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, which represents outlets like Wal-Mart, Target, Home Depot and Best Buy, the report said.

Representatives from the coalition are calling and visiting lawmakers' offices and plan to send every member of the committee a letter Tuesday stating that Markey's amendment is too vague, not feasible and would cripple U.S. commerce, CongressDaily said.

The coalition fears that committee Republicans will cave to political pressure from Democrats and organizations that say the GOP is becoming weak on security. "I think there is more political attention on (this issue) now than there was a few weeks ago. Our hope is that Republicans hold the line," Jonathan Gold, the Retail Industry Leaders Association's vice president for global supply chain policy, told CongressDaily.

Other members of the industry coalition include the American Association of Port Authorities, the American Apparel and Footwear Association, the Coalition of New England Companies for Trade, the Grocery Manufacturers of America, the National Industrial Transportation League and the Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers & Freight Forwarders.

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