Senate to consider short-term funding bill.
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee is now considering a proposal put forth by Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., and ranking member Richard Shelby of Alabama that would fund the government through the end of the fiscal year, on Sept. 30, and avert a government shutdown March 27, when the current stop-gap spending measure expires.
The budget amendment builds on the continuing resolution passed by the House last week. Instead of lumping all appropriations into package that maintains funding levels at the amount approved the previous year (minus the $85 billion in sequester cuts that kicked in March 1), the senators have actually proposed appropriations bills for several departments, including Homeland Security.
The Mikulski-Shelby proposal
includes funding for highway infrastructure, highway safety and motor carrier safety programs at the levels authorizes in last year's MAP-21 transportation bill. The House continuing resolution reduces funding for those programs by $704 million from the authorized amount.
The House CR did include a provision that would modify the automatic sequester cuts to allow U.S. Customs to maintain current staffing levels instead of implementing furloughs.
The spending bill is a compromise that denies President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner some of their policy goals, according to political analysis from Politico
The Senate could vote on the budget plan this week.
Fake handbags found at L.A. port.
A scheme to smuggle fake leather handbags into the United States was foiled by U.S. Customs officers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last month, the agency said.
Two shipments of 1,500 leather handbags from China bearing a counterfeit Hermes trademark were seized. The manufacturer's suggested retail price for the genuine products is $14.1 million.
During fiscal year 2012, Customs and Border Protection seized about $1.26 billion worth of counterfeit goods. China is the top source of fake goods.
Handbags and wallets are the category with the largest number of seized items. Last year, the value of confiscated handbags and wallets increased 142 percent to $511 million compared to 2011. More than $446 million of that total came from China, according to CBP. - Eric Kulisch