Welcome to Weise Wednesday! Twice a month we will share a brief Q&A with the former U.S. Commissioner of Customs, Mr. George Weise. If you have questions, we encourage you to send them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Q: As 2017 is drawing to a close, are there any congressional developments likely to impact CBP and the Trade community?

A: The most significant recent developments relate to the status of political appointees at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

 

Kevin McAleenan, Acting Commissioner of Customs

As discussed in an earlier blogpost, Kevin McAleenan was nominated by President Trump on March 30, 2017, to the position of Commissioner. He has been awaiting the completion of the Senate confirmation process since his nomination was submitted to the Senate Finance Committee on May 22. McAleenan is the Deputy Commissioner of Customs and has been Acting Commissioner since the departure of former Commissioner Gil Kerlikowski on January 20. 

The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the McAleenan nomination on October 24, and it was hoped that final Senate approval of his nomination would be completed soon thereafter. However, the committee was tied up working on the tax bill, and the nomination continued to languish. 

The breakthrough occurred last week when the Committee voted unanimously to approve the nomination and send it forward for full Senate approval. That vote is expected to occur any day now, and Kevin will finally be able to drop the “Acting” from his title.

 

Kirsten M. Nielsen, Secretary of DHS

In sharp contrast to McAleenan’s lengthy confirmation process, the Senate moved very swiftly to approve the nomination of Kirsten M. Nielsen to succeed John Kelly as the Secretary of DHS after he departed to become the White House Chief of Staff. Nielsen was nominated by President Trump on October 11, and her confirmation hearing by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security was held on November 8. She was confirmed by the full Senate on December 5 and sworn into office on December 6.

Nielsen was the Chief of Staff to Secretary Kelly when he was DHS Secretary, and moved to the White House with Secretary Kelly to serve as the Deputy Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the President. She served in several high-level positions at DHS under former President George W. Bush earlier in her career.

 

Moving forward into 2018

On the bad news front, with so few legislative days left in the session, it does not appear that legislation to extend GSP beyond its scheduled expiration date of December 31, or to enact so-called miscellaneous tariff bills, will happen this year. Hopefully, those bills will move early in 2018, and the GSP extension will be retroactive to December 31, 2017.

Stay tuned for future developments. I’ll share another update at the beginning of 2018. Until then, I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy new year.