Sen. Ted Cruz is celebrating the passage of bipartisan legislation that stands to decrease America’s manufacturing dependence on China.
The legislation cuts bureaucratic red tape to build or expand four bridges across the Rio Grande in Texas and “benefits national security, because it makes it easier to bring manufacturing back from China, either to the United States or to Mexico,” Cruz, R-Texas, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Friday.
Four new or expanded Texas bridges across the Rio Grande—one in Brownsville, one in Eagle Pass, and two in Laredo—are “enormously consequential for trade and commerce,” Cruz said, explaining that truck drivers face significant backups to get across the current bridges, creating backlogs and slowing goods from reaching consumers.
“Texas and Mexico do about $800 billion in trade and commerce going back and forth,” Cruz said, adding that “we need new infrastructure to facilitate that trade and commerce.”
Cruz inserted the legislation into the Senate’s National Defense Authorization Act, which was signed into law in December. The Texas senator said the new bridges will enable America’s “delinking from China,” which “is emphatically in our national security interests.”
According to Glenn Hamer, president of the Texas Association of Business, the bill is “The most significant effort to increase commerce since the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in 2020.”
Cruz’s bill received bipartisan support, and the senator visited the World Trade Bridge in Laredo, Texas, on Thursday and held a press conference alongside Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.
“If you want to see bipartisanship, this is the type of bipartisan work that gets the job done,” Cuellar said.
“Bridges serve as economic lifelines for our border communities, facilitating international trade, commerce and tourism,” Cuellar said in a statement. “However, drivers and truckers often report lines stretching for miles to cross, delaying the transportation of goods and costing our economy millions. We need to expand our ports of entry, and these changes to the presidential permitting process will ensure that proposed construction projects at the World Trade Bridge, Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge, and other bridges along the U.S.-Mexico border avoid unnecessary construction delays.”
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, D-Texas; and Reps. Tony Gonzales and Monica de la Cruz, both R-Texas, joined Cuellar and Cruz to pass the legislation and streamline the permitting process for the new bridges.
“This bill that was signed into law will benefit Texas farmers, ranchers, Texas small businesses, Texas manufacturers, consumers across the country who will see lower prices,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s visit to Texas’ border with Mexico came as illegal border crossings have reached record highs. Cruz is a vocal advocate for border security and in September introduced the Senate version of the House-passed border security bill known as Secure the Border Act of 2023, or HR 2.
“I think there is no higher priority than for Congress to do something about the absolute catastrophe that is unfolding in our southern border,” Cruz told The Daily Signal.
The Senate has yet to take up and vote on the bill Cruz introduced, which would resume border wall construction, increase the number of Border Patrol agents, and end many of the policies that have allowed the Biden administration to mass-parole illegal aliens into the country.
“I think we should use every lever we have to fight to secure the border,” Cruz said, “and the purse strings is one of the most important levers that Congress has. I think we should drag the Democrats kicking and screaming to finally address this crisis.”
Another Texas GOP lawmaker, Rep. Chip Roy, says Republicans should not fund the government until the border is secure. Asked if he would consider committing to not voting for any government spending until there is real and substantial action taken to secure the border, Cruz said, “I think we should use every lever we have. I’m just not going to commit to any particular tactical step, but it is an absolute crisis, and we should use every lever we have to force action on it.”
On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee announced it will formally move forward with impeachment proceedings against Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, citing the “unprecedented crisis at the Southwest border.”
Cruz says he has been calling for Mayorkas’ impeachment for two years.
“This should have been done a long time ago,” Cruz said. “Mayorkas is directly responsible for the invasion that is unfolding at our southern border.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection encountered a record more than 302,000 illegal immigrants at or between ports of entry in December. In November, Customs and Border Protection said, agents encountered 242,418 illegal aliens at the southern border.
“Alejandro Mayorkas does not view his job as trying to stop illegal immigration,” Cruz said. “He views his job as trying to increase illegal immigration. When Joe Biden says he wants Congress to fund ‘border security,’ what he means is he wants more money to hire more personnel to process illegal immigrants faster.”
According to the senator, the Biden administration thinks “every illegal immigrant coming into this country will be a future Democrat voter.”
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