December 8, 2023

Cassidy, Whitehouse Introduces Bill to Bring U.S. Customs Laws into the 21st Century, Stop Illicit Trade

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today introduced a bill to modernize U.S. customs laws to meet the demands of modern trade and combat the flow of illegal and counterfeit goods into the U.S. The Customs Modernization Act of 2023 increases U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) visibility into international supply chains to resolve data collection constraints, expand the legal use of trade data, increase supply chain accountability, improve enforcement effectiveness, and bolster information sharing among government agencies.

“U.S. laws should reflect modern trade and make sure that law enforcement has every tool necessary in a global economy,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Greater visibility in our international supply chains will lower prices for American families, help halt the flow of fentanyl, and weed out products produced with slave labor.”

“It’s been thirty years since Congress last overhauled our customs laws.  Given the explosion of e-commerce and increasingly complex global supply chains, we’re in need of comprehensive customs modernization to better stop kleptocrats, cartels, and international criminals from moving illicit products into the United States,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our bipartisan bill will crack down on bad actors and promote fairer competition for American businesses and workers.”

Cassidy has also committed to introducing a bipartisan Trade Facilitation framework in 2024 to better improve the flow of goods across U.S. borders. 

The Customs Modernization Act of 2023:

  • Expands CBP to access data by allowing access prior to the entry of goods and from parties throughout the supply chain;
  • Clarifies CBP’s authority to provide information to relevant supply chain parties when CBP has a reasonable suspicion that goods are counterfeit or otherwise illicit;
  • Reduces uncertainty for law-abiding importers while giving CBP the tools they need to hold bad actors accountable;
  • Enables CBP to collect more information on duty-free shipments under $800 to better counter illicit trade;
  • Cuts bureaucratic red tape, increases transparency of shipments entering the U.S., and creates an appeals process for CBP decisions on imports. 

Click here to download a section-by-section and here to download the bill text.


Last month, Cassidy and Whitehouse introduced the Manifest Modernization Act to improve transparency of shipments coming into the U.S. by standardizing the data requirements for imports regardless of how the cargo is shipped. The bill aims to give CBP another tool to stop the trafficking of drugs and illegal goods.