Rep. Miller: Additional User Fee for Crossing Our Land Border with Canada is Ill-Advised

Apr 26, 2013

President’s DHS Fiscal Year 2014 budget request proposes a study for a new toll on all passengers and pedestrians crossing the border from Canada into the United States

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Candice Miller (MI-10) today joined in a bipartisan letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano to convey strong opposition to a proposal in DHS’ Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, to study whether fees should be assessed on passengers and pedestrians at land border crossings.  This proposal would harm our border communities that depend on cross border travel and commerce from Canada.  Rep. Miller said:

“Michigan is a border state and the district I am so proud to represent in the United States House of Representatives is a border district.  There is a high potential for this new fee to impose a negative impact on all of the state of Michigan, especially southeast Michigan because of both the Blue Water Bridge and the Ambassador Bridge, as well as the Detroit-Windsor tunnel, among all major crossings our nation shares with Canada.  Our friends, neighbors and in many cases our co-workers from Canada cross the border into the U.S. each and every day.  In all, our Canadian friends spend approximately $57 million annually in St. Clair County alone which represents nearly 25% of all money spent by Canadian visitors in the entire state of Michigan each year.  The fact is that our Canadian friends add to our economy and create jobs in our community.  That type of friendship should be encouraged, not discouraged.

“Unfortunately, in his fiscal year 2014 budget submission, President Obama suggested that a study be conducted to asses a new fee on vehicles and pedestrians who cross our border from Canada.  Such a fee would discourage economic activity, would hurt our economy and cost our community jobs.  I am proud to join with a bipartisan group of my colleagues in Congress, many who represent border districts and have a deep understanding of the negative impact of this idea, in sending this letter to Secretary Napolitano urging her to abandon this proposal.  I am firmly committed to stand in opposition to this potential new fee if it comes before Congress.

“Canada is our nation’s number one trading partner in the entire world, and a vast amount of that trade occurs in Michigan.  The trading relationship our nation shares with Canada is good for both countries, and I will continue to work in Congress to ensure that relationship remains strong.”

Below is the letter sent to Secretary Napolitano:

The Honorable Janet Napolitano
Secretary of Homeland Security
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528

Dear Secretary Napolitano:

We write to convey our strong opposition to a proposal in the Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request, to study whether fees should be assessed on passengers and pedestrians at land border crossings.

This proposal would harm our border communities that depend on cross border travel and commerce. We urge you to reject it.

The economic integration of the United States and Canada and the facilitation of ease of access between the two countries should be a high priority for our federal government. Canada is our largest trading partner and the economic impact of Canadians on northern border communities -- and the benefit that Americans receive from traveling to Canada -- is significant. These economic and social traditions have solidified over centuries and should be promoted, not hindered. The future shared prosperity of communities on both sides of the border depends on it.

Further, such a fee would abrogate the spirit of the recent “Beyond the Border” agreement between the United States and Canada, a historic accord to facilitate cross border commerce on the Northern Border.

Given this, we were shocked to see that the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request proposed a study for a new toll on all passengers and pedestrians crossing the border from Canada into the United States. The imposition of such a toll would act as a barrier to the greater economic integration that we seek, and is the absolute last thing we should be doing to grow our economy. It would be a waste of government resources to even study the flawed idea.

Some have suggested that the toll could be used to offset the cost of increased security measures necessary to remain vigilant in a dangerous world. However homeland security and border protection are national priorities that benefit the entire country. Their cost should not be disproportionately borne by our communities, which should not be singled out and asked to do so.

We will actively oppose new fees for land border crossings and we urge you to reconsider this misguided proposal. At a time when we are looking to increase economic activity at our Northern Border, we should not be proposing policies that would do the reverse.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,
Rep. Dan Benishek (MI-01)
Rep. Chris Collins (NY-27)
Rep. John Conyers (MI-13)
Rep. Kevin Cramer (ND-At Large)
Rep. Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
Rep. John Dingell (MI-12)
Rep. Richard Hanna (NY-22)
Rep. Brian Higgins (NY-26)
Rep. Derek Kilmer (WA-06)
Rep. Ann Kuster (NH-02)
Rep. Rick Larsen (WA-02)
Rep. Dan Maffei (NY-24)
Rep. Betty McCollum (MN-04)
Rep. Mike Michaud (ME-02)
Rep. Candice Miller (MI-10)
Rep. Bill Owens (NY-21)
Rep. Gary Peters (MI-14)
Rep. Louise Slaughter (NY-25)
Rep. Peter Welch (VT-At Large)

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