Rep. Cuellar Works Across the Aisle to Secure Permitting Reform Language in National Defense Authorization Act
The World Trade Bridge, Colombia Solidarity Bridge, and other bridge expansion projects will be expedited
Washington | Tony Wen, Press Secretary (202-856-8750), December 7, 2023
U.S. Congressman Henry Cuellar, Ph.D. (TX-28), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement after permitting reform language for cross-border bridges was included in the final text of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year (FY) 2024. Working with Senator Ted Cruz, Cuellar secured provisions reforming the Presidential permitting process for cross-border bridges, including the World Trade Bridge expansion project in Laredo.
“I am pleased that language expediting the Presidential permitting process for cross-border bridge construction, a priority for South Texas, has been included in the 2024 NDAA,” said Congressman Henry Cuellar, Ph.D. “Laredo is the nation’s busiest port of entry, and changes to the Presidential permitting process will ensure that proposed construction projects at the World Trade Bridge, Colombia Solidarity Bridge, and other bridges along the U.S.-Mexico border avoid unnecessary construction delays. Thank you to Senator Ted Cruz for working with me to get this language included.”
Cuellar has long been working to streamline the Presidential permitting process for cross-border bridges. As a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, Cuellar secured language to reform the Presidential permit process for cross-border bridges in the Fiscal Year 2024 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs House appropriations bill, which would expedite the World Trade Bridge expansion project in Laredo. Laredo is the nation’s largest port of entry, with 7.6 million total vehicle crossings in FY23. The city’s World Trade Bridge has experienced significant increases in commercial traffic since opening in 2000 and saw 2.5 million commercial crossings in FY23. The proposed World Trade Bridge expansion project will add ten lanes to the World Trade Bridge, bringing the total to 18 lanes and enabling more trade with Mexico.
Presidential permits are required for construction projects at border crossings. Obtaining a permit currently requires an environmental review, which often takes years to complete. Cuellar’s language would direct the President to issue conditional permits for projects while environmental reviews required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) are ongoing.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an annual law specifying the budget and expenditures for the U.S. Department of Defense.
The FY24 NDAA includes a discretionary topline budget of approximately $876.8 billion.
The House and Senate will vote soon to pass this crucial legislation.