U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) have urged the Biden administration to approve Maverick County, Texas’s request to build a key cross-border bridge between Eagle Pass, Texas and Mexico. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Sens. Cruz and Cornyn lent their support for the county’s application, which was submitted yesterday, for a presidential permit to construct the Puerto Verde Global Trade Bridge (PVGTB).
This letter is the latest step in Senator Cruz’s ongoing bipartisan, bicameral effort to see that four key Texas-Mexico bridge projects—that will help create jobs, increase trade, and improve the environment in south Texas—are permitted and ultimately built.
Sens. Cruz and Cornyn wrote in their letter:
“We write in support of the Puerto Verde Global Trade Bridge (PVGTB) Presidential permit application to be filed by Maverick County, Texas. The project, which would permit the construction of a cross-border rail and truck freight bridge between Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Mexico, will support international trade, help address supply chain challenges, and support economic development and security for this critical region of Texas.
“As you know, Mexico is one of the United States’ most important trading partners, with billions of dollars exchanged in exports and imports each year. This region contributes 42 percent of all trade between the United States and Mexico, so it is crucial to have a strong and stable transportation connection between our countries. We expect that the PVGTB will close a critical infrastructure gap to support trade growth. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) projects that without additional investments in border trade capacity, such as the PVGTB, delays to the movement of goods in parts of this region could exceed nine and a half hours. Such a processing delay would inevitably slow supply chains and burden cross-border trade activity. Additionally, the PVGTB project is uniquely positioned to support TxDOT’s plans to expand Highway 57, as well as support the Ports-to-Plains Corridor’s third segment in Texas (U.S.-277).
“In 2019, Maverick County commissioned a feasibility study that found community support for an additional border crossing. Many communities along the border region of Texas are among the lowest-income in the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in July 2022, 20 percent of Maverick County’s population was below the poverty threshold. This project will help attract significant investment to the City of Eagle Pass and greater Maverick County region, supporting a chronically underinvested area of Texas.
“The security of the southern border is paramount to our national security and safety of the region. With hundreds of millions of dollars of goods and thousands of people crossing through land-ports-of-entry (LPOE) every day, it is critically important that a crossing have adequate infrastructure and workforce to process goods and people. Maverick County has worked diligently to secure support from the community for this project and for the required infrastructure to build a state-of-the-art LPOE, which will enhance border security and increase inspection rates.
“We respectfully request that you expedite the processing of Maverick County’s application for a Presidential permit for the PVGTB, and that you submit a favorable foreign policy recommendation to the President.”
In July 2023, the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopted Sen. Cruz’s amendment to streamline the presidential permitting process for building 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, or National Defense Authorization Act, on July 27, 2023. Sen. Cruz has vowed to keep working to see that his amendment is part of the final defense bill that is signed into law.
Sen. Cruz’s amendment, which received bipartisan support, gives the State Department sixty days to make a recommendation to the president on whether to grant permits to four international Texas bridge projects. The president would then have sixty days to make a decision. The amendment adheres to the practice used by the prior administration where presidential permits could be issued contingent on successful completion of environmental reviews.
In June 2023, Sen. Cruz also led the entire south Texas congressional delegation, both Democrats and Republicans, in sending a letter to Secretary Blinken urging the Biden administration to resolve delays in providing permits for the four international Texas bridge projects. Joining Sen. Cruz in sending the letter were Sen. Cornyn, and U.S. Representatives 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.
Earlier this month, Sen. Cruz again led another 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).
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
- S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Laredo Motor Carriers Association
- Border Trade Alliance