Congressman says land-crossing toll would hurt national, regional economy
Congressman Brian Higgins, NY-26, spoke on the Floor of the House of Representatives Thursday calling on both Houses of Congress to follow through on committee action to eliminate a plan to study a new fee on citizens crossing the U.S. border by land.
The Department of Homeland Security's budget proposal calls on U.S. Customs and Border Protection to "conduct a study ... relating to establishing and collecting a land border crossing fee for both land border pedestrians and passenger vehicles along the northern and southwest borders."
Higgins first shed light on this plan in April. On May 9, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved an amendment introduced by Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont that blocks the creation of a land border-crossing fee. On May 15, Higgins introduced and won approval of an amendment through the House Committee on Homeland Security also prohibiting the toll study.
Below are Higgins' remarks on the House Floor urging full implementation of measures prohibiting a study of a new land crossing toll:
"Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Homeland Security Committee adopted my amendment to block a study of new fees for passengers and pedestrians crossing our borders. A similar amendment was successfully included in Senate legislation last week.
"The consensus for blocking this tax is welcome, but not surprising. Cross border travel is central to the economic viability of border communities, including my own in Western New York.
"Last year, 3 million Canadians visited our region, spending nearly $1 billion. Canadians rely on seamless travel at one of my district's five border crossings to travel from the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, area businesses, and attend sporting and cultural events.
"Mr. Speaker, with the bipartisan support and bicameral support for this issue, I suggest that language blocking the border fees should be included in upcoming immigration reform legislation. This is a senseless tax; it's counterproductive, and we should take every action to prevent it."