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- As Delivered - 

WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today gave the following remarks on the House floor in support of legislation that would provide authority for the successors and assigns of the Starr-Camargo Bridge Company to maintain and operate a toll bridge across the Rio Grande near Rio Grande City, Texas, and for other purposes (S.2143):

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and let me once again thank our Chairman, Ed Royce, for bringing forward this bipartisan measure and for his continued good leadership on the Committee.  I also want to thank my good friend from Texas, Mr. Cuellar, who introduced the House version of this legislation, which has already passed the Senate.

“When it comes to our Southern neighbor, Mexico, lately we’ve been hearing far too much about building walls.  Mexico is a critically important partner to the United States.  Our people share long, close ties.  So we should be talking about building bridges, Mr. Speaker, not building walls.

“A few weeks ago, the Senate helped build a bridge by confirming a new Ambassador to Mexico, Roberta Jacobson.  This was long overdue.  She’s excellent, and we’re glad to have her on the way to Mexico City now.

“And today with this bill, we’re talking about quite literally strengthening a bridge between the United States and Mexico in the years ahead.  The Starr-Camargo Bridge connects Rio Grande, Texas with Monterrey and Ciudad Camargo in Mexico. 

“The legal authority to operate this bridge will expire in 16 years.  That may seem like a long way off.  But as a result of that end date, we’ve already started to see a constraint in long-term investments.  This bill would eliminate that expiration date.

“We’ve done the same thing before.  The Weslaco-Progreso International Bridge once had a sun-setting authorization, and Congress acted to lift that deadline.

“This bill doesn’t cost the U.S. taxpayers a penny.  But it does clear the way for this bridge to remain an important conduit between our countries for years to come.  It also sends an important message from those of us actually responsible for making laws and advancing American foreign policy: Mexico is an extremely important partner to the United States, and bridges, not barriers, will help that friendship to thrive.  I support this measure and I reserve the balance of my time.”