WASHINGTON (NEWS CENTER 23) — U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas today introduced S. 178, the Cross Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2013, which would encourage public-private partnerships to boost staffing and make infrastructure improvements at U.S. ports of entry. On Saturday, Sen. Cornyn was joined by local mayors, community and business leaders in Brownsville at the Veterans International Bridge to announce the bill’s re-introduction.
“This bill recognizes that the Texas border trade community is vital to the economy of the Rio Grande Valley, Texas, and the nation, and that Washington can facilitate positive changes without adding to the deficit.
“I’m deeply grateful for the support and input I’ve received from local officials and business leaders in developing this legislation and look forward to a continued partnership as I work to advance the measure in Congress.”
Background on the Cross Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2013
Due to increasing fiscal constraints in Washington, the border trade community has explored ideas for alternative funding for ports of entry improvements to keep the bridges open longer and expand development to ensure safer and more efficient travel and commerce. Sen. Cornyn’s legislation would allow Customs and Border Protection and other federal agencies to partner with local governments or private entities in order to improve staffing and infrastructure at our land ports of entry. The bill would also require the General Services Administration to expedite review of alternative financing arrangements, ensuring that proposals no longer sit on desks in Washington for decades.
Sen. Cornyn’s legislation has been endorsed by: United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce; Border Trade Alliance; Texas Border Coalition; Rio Grande Valley Partnership; Judge Carlos Cascos, Cameron County; Mayor John Cook, City of El Paso; Mayor Raul Salinas; City of Laredo; Mayor Ramsey English Cantu, City of Eagle Pass; Mayor Beto Salinas, City of Mission; Mayor Richard Cortez, City of McAllen; Mayor Martin Zepeda, City of Hidalgo; Mayor Chris Boswell, City of Harlingen; Mayor Leopoldo “Polo” Palacios, City of Pharr; Brownsville Chamber of Commerce; Sam Vale, Owner, Starr-Camargo International Bridge Company.
Border Trade Alliance:
"Border wait times hamper our national economy and are largely caused by two issues at our ports of entry: infrastructure deficiencies and a lack of CBP personnel. Due to the current national budgetary situation, I want to commend Senator Cornyn for the public-private partnership legislation that addresses these issues. We must look for innovative ways to not only finance but improve operations at our international ports of entry while reducing border wait times."
Texas Border Coalition:
"In today's fiscal environment and the realization of being 6,000 CBP officers short and over 6 billion dollars in need for infrastructure, Senator John Cornyn's bill provides a bipartisan realistic solution, which enhances legitimate trade, travel, and security."
Brownsville Chamber of Commerce:
“The Brownsville Chamber of Commerce understands cross-border trade brings positive economic impact to our communities. It’s no secret our Ports of Entry have challenges in manpower, infrastructure, technology and security. Therefore, we support innovative legislation that will help address these challenges.
“We believe the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2013 is in response to the needs of local stakeholders by providing CBP the authority to enter into public-private partnerships. The legislation will help CBP leverage its limited resources and acquire additional tools and financing to enhance operations and expedite the flow of traffic at border ports of entry.”
Rigoberto Villarreal, Superintendent of Bridges, City of McAllen:
“The City of McAllen received $7 million in Coordinated Border Infrastructure funds to expand the Anzalduas International Port of Entry. Unfortunately, there is no legal mechanism where a community like ours can partner with the DHS and CBP. To my knowledge, no other border community has experienced this issue. I am personally grateful to Senator Cornyn for not only recognizing the issue but providing a solution for not only the City of McAllen but every other border community.”
Laredo Mayor Raul G. Salinas:
“Our nation is coming to understand what we in Laredo have long known: Mexico is an economic giant that grows in strength every day. We must be partners in prosperity. This partnership, or regional economic engine, will only flourish, however, if not only our border is secure, in both directions, against illegal trade, but also open and flowing efficiently with respect to legal commerce. Government investments alone are not sufficient to keep pace with our needs for border infrastructure. As the mayor of the nation’s largest inland port, I am very grateful to Senator John Cornyn for his leadership in introducing the ‘Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2013. The legislation makes possible public private partnerships to facilitate both the construction and maintenance of land port of entry facilities and infrastructure. I hope that the Congress will take up this vitally important legislation. If this legislation gets bogged down in Congress, I fear we will cause waiting timesto rise.”
El Paso Mayor John Cook:
"Communities on both sides of the US/Mexico border are struggling to deal with infrastructure and staffing challenges that impact their economies and global competitiveness. Public Private Partnerships are an important tool that will benefit both governments, both economies, and industry. My sincere appreciation