House Bill to Improve Texas Border Infrastructure

The U.S. House Committee on Highways and Transit is considering a bill that would permit border states to designate certain funds for infrastructure projects, according to Congress.gov.

The bill, H.R. 3181, was introduced in the House late last month by Congressman Will Hurd (R-TX), Congressman Michael T. McCaul (R-TX), and Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX). They were joined by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), who worked to have similar language included in the long-term highway bill in the Senate.

Cornyn said that Texas, the top exporting state in the U.S., relies on well-designed infrastructure on its southern border to support the transport from Texas more than $100 billion in goods to Mexico annually. The sale of those goods provides income to “hundreds of thousands” of workers in Texas, he writes. “Allowing border states like Texas more flexibility in the long-term planning of border projects will benefit workers and consumers in our state and across the country,” he writes.

Hurd’s district alone (congressional district 23) has more than 820 miles of border with Mexico. Cornyn quotes him as saying that an improved infrastructure will be good for both the U.S. and Mexico in moving goods and services over the border. Cuellar says in the press release that Laredo, his home town, has the United States’ largest inland port, servicing the crossings of more than 12,000 commercial trucks, car haulers and 1,500 trains daily. Having the transportation infrastructure in peak condition is imperative in order to grow the economy, he adds.

An improved infrastructure at the southern border of Texas helps homeland security, said McCaul, whose district exported $11.5 billion in goods and services in 2013. “By providing certainty in funding for infrastructure improvements, we will be able to address the problems currently being encountered at the border,” he says in the statement. McCaul is chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

The bill would create a Coordinated Border Infrastructure Reserve Fund, providing a means for border states like Texas to reserve up to 5% of statewide Surface Transportation Funds for qualified border infrastructure purposes, according to a press release on Hurd’s House page. It would provide funding certainty, the statement says.

The proposed bill is getting support from others, as Hurd’s statement says:

Border wait times at our international land ports of entry are having serious negative impacts to our country’s economy. We are thankful for introduction of this legislation and the leadership demonstrated by U.S. Senators Boxer and Cornyn as well as Congressmen Hurd and Cuellar on this issue of vital economic importance. This legislation will provide funds to our border states for needed infrastructure expansion and freight mobility projects located at our international borders,” stated Jesse J. Hereford, Chairman of the Border Trade Alliance.

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