Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced a bill last week (Thursday, January 30) that would empower U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enter into agreements with local governments or private entities to fund improvements at land ports of entry. The Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2013 (S. 178, a reintroduction of S. 3279, which Cornyn originally introduced last June) would facilitate the creation of public-private partnerships (PPPs) to improve staffing and to build and maintain infrastructure at land ports. The bill also would require GSA to expedite review of alternative financing arrangements, clearing the way for creative public-private financing in a timely manner.
Because of increasing federal fiscal constraints, the border trade community has been exploring new ways of funding improvements to ports of entry for several years. The Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Border Infrastructure Task Force also has recommended the development of a regulatory framework for PPPs to fund border infrastructure projects.
“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,” said Cornyn. The bill, he claims, would enable CBP to keep bridges open longer and expand development to ensure safer and more efficient cross-border travel and commerce.