Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21) spoke on the House floor in support of H.R. 6431 -- the Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act of 2016 – bipartisan legislation she co-introduced with Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH-02) that would solidify the preclearance agreement between the U.S. and Canada. Below are Congresswoman Stefanik’s remarks as delivered on the House floor; for video, click here.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I rise today in strong support of H.R. 6431, the Promoting Travel, Commerce and National Security Act.
First I want to take a moment to thank my colleague, Congresswoman Kuster, for all of her efforts on this important bill.
As you can see, the need for Preclearance and this bill stretches across party lines and across our great nation.
In my district and communities in Northern New York, Canada is more than just a bordering nation – they are our neighbors, our friends, and our largest trading partner.
Plattsburgh, a city in my district, has even branded itself as Montreal's “U.S. Suburb,” home to more than 100 U.S. subsidiaries of Canadian companies, with 15 percent of our area workforce working for a Canadian or border-related employer.
That is why I helped lead the efforts to craft H.R. 6431, the Promoting Travel, Commerce and National Security Act— a necessary step to solidify the preclearance agreement between the U.S. and Canada, which was reached over a year ago.
This significant, bipartisan legislation is great news for U.S.-Canadian relations.
It maintains a positive working relationship with Border officials, especially in rural regions like ours in the North Country, and it allows for facility sharing along the border.
This bill also expands U.S. Preclearance operations to help provide expedited screening for Amtrak passengers prior to traveling. This process will allow for an easier and accelerated trip while ensuring necessary protections for our national security.
I strongly encourage my colleagues to support this vital legislation to maintain a secure Northern border and facilitate travel and commerce between the U.S. and Canada, and I urge the Senate to act quickly to send this measure to the President.
Thank you and I yield back.
"Congressional approval of the U.S.-Canada Preclearance Agreement was our top priority for action before the end of the year, and we cannot thank Congresswoman Stefanik enough for her determined and steady leadership," states Garry Douglas, President of the North Country Chamber of Commerce. "This agreement is an historic act of common sense and partnership between our two countries. When fully approved by Congress and the Canadian Parliament, it will set the stage for many practical arrangements at our northern border, allowing each country's border agencies to undertake their functions on the other side when that is the best way to keep things moving. This will include the preclearance of Amtrak passengers in Montreal, eliminating the need for long stoppages at the border, and it is expected to allow Canadian border officials to operate on the Massena side of the Seaway Bridge crossing, also allowing more efficient operations. And for the North Country's small crossings, it should eliminate future threats aimed at cost saving as now U.S. and Canadian border agents will be able to decide to operate together on one side of those crossings or the other, clearing traffic in both direction. We continue to work with Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, looking for final Senate action this month. And then we will join with our Canadian partners to seek Parliamentary OK early in the new year."
The Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act of 2016 paves the way for expansion of preclearance facilities, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, at land, rail, marine, and air ports of departure in Canada. The United States currently operates preclearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries, including Canada. These facilities allow travelers to pass through CBP inspections prior to traveling, expediting their arrival in the United States, and protecting national security by preventing those who should not be traveling to the United States from doing so before they arrive.
Under a new agreement, the United States will expand its preclearance operations in Canada, which will include rail preclearance facilities for the first time. This legislation ensures that the U.S. has the legal authority to hold U.S. officials accountable if they engage in wrongdoing while stationed in Canada – a necessary prerequisite to full implementation of this agreement.
This legislation passed the House today unopposed by voice vote.