Senate could punt customs enforcement bill

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The Senate could push a long-awaited customs enforcement bill until next year, as lawmakers face an end-of-the-year time crunch. 
 
 
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Senators had hoped to pass the legislation before leaving Washington for a holiday recess to ensure it would get to President Obama's desk by the end of the year. 
 
But Hatch on Tuesday said "pressures" in the Senate could force lawmakers to kick the issue into 2016, adding that "there are some things that have to be ... resolved there still." 
 

Asked if the customs enforcement bill is getting pushed to January, McConnell's office said a vote hasn't been scheduled yet. 

A Senate aide said separately that because of the delays in getting a deal on the omnibus spending bill, the customs legislation is "likely pushed to January." 
 
The customs enforcement legislation passed the House last week, after House and Senate lawmakers unveiled their compromise deal Wednesday. The legislation includes an overhaul of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency, as well as new protections for intellectual property and stronger tools for the government to crackdown on currency manipulation. 
 
But the agreement has also gotten bogged down in a fight over a permanent Internet sales tax ban, which was added into the conference report. 
 
Supporters of the ban suggested the customs enforcement bill was their best chance to lock down the policy, but opponents — including Sen. Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenate Dems link court fight to Congressional Baseball Game Dems: Immigration decision will 'energize' Hispanic voters Senate Dems rip GOP on immigration ruling MORE (D-Ill.) — have threatened to use a procedural move to remove the provision. 
 
Durbin's office previously told The Hill that he had the votes to remove the ban from the customs enforcement package. 
 
The Illinois Democrat dug in on that fight Tuesday, accusing conferees of dropping the ban into an "unrelated" customs enforcement bill. 
 
"This provision wasn't in the bill that passed either the House or the Senate. It's what happens toward the end of the legislative session when things go bump in the dark," he added.

Durbin said that if lawmakers try to bring up the legislation it would have to overcome procedural hurdles, which could eat up the Senate limited time remaining.

"It's possible the Republican leadership wants to hold this over," he added, while stressing that isn't his decision to make.

If Durbin were successful in removing the Internet tax ban, it would force senators to send the customs bill back the the House.

- This story was updated at 4:47 p.m.

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