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Sen. Cruz, Rep. Cuellar Speak at World Trade Bridge on Major Win for South Texas

LAREDO, TX – U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), ranking member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) today hosted a press conference with key stakeholders to tout the signing of legislation they led to streamline the permitting process for new and expanded bridges across the Rio Grande in Brownsville, Laredo, and Eagle Pass, Texas, into law. This victory was made possible by a bipartisan and bicameral coalition of Texas legislators dedicated to expanding Texas’s economy and enhancing our bilateral relationship with Mexico, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Reps. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), and Monica de la Cruz (R-Texas).

About the victory, Sen. Cruz said, “Every year, Texas and Mexico have roughly $800 billion in trade and commerce that comes across this border. That’s jobs in Texas. That’s jobs in Mexico. That’s the lifeblood of South Texas. And unfortunately, for the past three years, expansion of these bridges has been delayed by bureaucratic roadblocks. … So, then we began drafting legislation, I introduced it in the Senate, to expedite these bridges. We had it adopted in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and then it was attached to the National Defense Authorization Act. … So, we’re here to celebrate a tremendous bipartisan victory, a victory for Texas. I want to thank all of the stakeholders throughout South Texas who are here. The community in Laredo worked hard to make this happen.”

Rep. Cuellar said, “Bridges serve as economic lifelines for our border communities, facilitating international trade, commerce, and tourism,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar. “However, drivers and truckers often report lines stretching for miles to cross, delaying the transportation of goods and costing our economy millions. We need to expand our ports of entry, and these changes to the Presidential permitting process will ensure that proposed construction projects at the World Trade Bridge, Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge, and other bridges along the U.S.-Mexico border avoid unnecessary construction delays.”

Glenn Hamer, President and CEO, Texas Association of Business, “This is a great initiative for Laredo and it’s a great initiative for the state of Texas. It’s a great initiative for the entire United States of America, for our friend, ally, and neighbor Mexico, for the world’s most important trading bloc North America, and our friends in Canada. This is the most significant effort to increase commerce since the passage of the USMCA. Over $850 billion of goods are traded between Mexico and the United States and 81% go through the state of Texas. So, making sure that we could speed up the arteries of trade is vitally important. With Mexico now as our number one trading partner, that’s good news. I think all of us would agree we would much rather see Mexico as our top trading partner than China. The entire Texas business community is in full support, and we’re going to do everything possible to build up the infrastructure.”

Watch the full press conference here.

BACKGROUND:

In June 2023, Sen. Cruz led the entire south Texas congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, in sending a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging the Biden administration to resolve delays in providing permits for four international Texas bridge projects. Joining Sen. Cruz in sending the letter were Sen. Cornyn, and U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Monica De La Cruz (R-Texas), and Tony Gonzales (R-Texas). Read the full text of the letter here.

In July 2023, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted Sen. Cruz’s amendment to streamline the presidential permitting process for building these key bridges across the Rio Grande. The amendment, which was included in a bill authorizing funding for the State Department, was ultimately passed by the entire Senate as part of the annual defense policy bill, or National Defense Authorization Act, on July 27, 2023. Sen. Cruz vowed to keep working to see that his amendment is part of the final defense bill that is signed into law.

In October, Sen. Cruz again led a letter, this time to President Biden, expressing frustration, “over the delayed issuance of presidential permits for key bridge projects between the United States and Mexico,” and urging the president to, “swiftly approve these four critical Texas-Mexico bridge projects that will create jobs, improve supply chain resiliency, and promote economic growth.” Joining Sen. Cruz in sending this letter were Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), and U.S. Representatives Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), and Monica De La Cruz (R-Texas).

In December 2023, the annual defense authorization bill was passed with a provision, pushed by a bipartisan and bicameral coalition of Texas legislators, to streamline the presidential permitting process for new and expanded bridges across the Rio Grande in Brownsville, Laredo, and Eagle Pass, Texas. This language, which Cruz had inserted into the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and battled to keep in the final bill, was an important victory that will help alleviate border crossing bottlenecks, expand trade, and create jobs.

Sen. Cruz’s bipartisan effort to streamline the presidential permitting process for Texas-Mexico bridge projects are supported by a diverse group of stakeholders, including:

  • Texas Association of Business
  • U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • Laredo Motor Carriers Association
  • Border Trade Alliance
  • American Trucking Associations
  • Texas Trucking Association
  • Texas International Produce Association

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