U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) and U.S. Representative Tim Walberg (MI-07) called on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study inconsistencies in the cargo screening standards at American ports that have halted service at Michigan’s Port of Monroe.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Detroit Field Office has restricted the Port of Monroe from accepting international break bulk cargo – countering nearly 90 years of practice since the Port of Monroe began operations in 1932 – unless the Port invests in significant and costly screening technology and infrastructure upgrades at their own expense. Other coastal and Great Lakes ports have not been subjected to the same strict screening requirements. The change in requirements has severely impacted the Port of Monroe’s operations, and undermines Michigan’s economic competitiveness, says a press release

“We have received reports that CBP is not applying a consistent standard at ports of entry across the United States for screening requirements for non-containerized cargo, including for ports in Michigan,” wrote the Members. “CBP’s inconsistent approach gives a strategic advantage to some ports while placing burdensome infrastructure requirements on other ports, such as demands from CBP to purchase expensive scanning equipment that is provided by the federal government at other points of entry.”

Currently, the SAFE Port Act and other federal regulations outline specific requirements for incoming containerized cargo. These requirements lack clear outlined standards for non-containerized cargo. Federal regulations mandate 100 percent scanning for incoming containerized cargo, but the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended the implementation deadline multiple times. The Members have asked GAO to examine whether these standards are being equally enforced at different ports across the country, and how they apply to different types of cargo, including non-containerized cargo such as break bulk.