House Speaker John A. Boehner was notified Wednesday of the high toll sequestration is taking on commerce at the Port of Hueneme.

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, and Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Oak Park, teamed up to pen Boehner, an Ohio Republican, a letter addressing U.S. Customs and Border Protection overtime cuts. Without a flexible schedule, CBP inspections have been delayed and hundreds of paid dockworkers have been sitting idle before they can unload ships.

The letter states: “These cuts are having a ripple effect, negatively impacting private shipping companies that transport everything from automobiles to produce to the United States.”

Full letter from Lois Capps and Julia Brownley

Capps and Brownley point to the port’s plight as a response to Boehner’s Sunday interview with NBC’s Meet the Press, during which he said: “I don’t know whether it’s going to hurt the economy or not.”

“Mr. Speaker, it is clear that in less than a week since the sequester has gone into effect, these cuts are already hurting local economies,” Capps and Brownley write.

Local Congressional representatives sent their letter a day before the arrival of CBP Area Director Carlos C. Martel. He will be at the Port of Hueneme at 11 a.m. Thursday to meet with stakeholders at the Joint Operations Facility, 105 E. Hueneme Road.

CBP inspectors must screen all cargo ships for materials that terrorists might try to smuggle into the United States. Shipping companies that use the Port of Hueneme were caught off guard Friday, when federal budget cuts took effect and the local CBP office announced it was ending overtime and Saturday inspections.

Overtime was not cut at every port in the state and nation. Overtime reductions are calculated by the local CBP port director, according to a spokesman with the World Shipping Council, a shipping trade association.

The shipping companies are willing to pay the CBP inspectors’ overtime, arguing that it would be less expensive than the losses they’re suffering due to the delays.

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