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U.S. Customs school sparks row

July 10, 2006 at 7:10 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 10 (UPI) -- U.S. lawmakers appear to be heading for a battle over funding to expand a new training facility for Customs and Border Protection agents in West Virginia.

For the past two years Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, has put earmarks in the Homeland Security appropriations report for funding to expand the CBP Advanced Training Center near Harpers Ferry Historical Park, CongressDaily reported Friday.

Byrd added about $26 million in the fiscal 2006 spending bill and put about $32 million in the Senate Appropriations Committee's version of the fiscal 2007 spending bill for construction to expand the center, which sits on about 104 acres of land, an aide to the senator told CongressDaily.

The Bush administration has not requested any money to expand the center during the past two years, but has asked for funds to operate the center. The aide said Byrd originally secured funding in 2000 to create the center, but acknowledged that no competition was ever held to determine a site location for it. The center became operational last August.

But now at least one senior Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives wants the expansion of the center stopped, saying it is not needed and is creating redundancies to training provided at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, which is headquartered in Glynco, Ga., and operates four training centers across the country serving more than 80 federal agencies.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., whose district includes the Glynco headquarters, told ComgressDaily he would work to remove funding for the Advanced Training Center expansion. "If it survived the Senate, we would work hard to get it killed in conference committee," said Kingston, vice chairman of the House Republican Conference.

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