WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and U.S. Representative Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), with Senators Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and U.S. Representatives Russ Fulcher (R-Idaho), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), and Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) introduced legislation requiring U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s hours of operations at northern ports to match or exceed pre-pandemic hours. The bill’s creation was spurred by CBP’s recent announcement that it will reduce hours at certain northern ports and maintain adjusted hours at others, including Porthill Port of Entry in Idaho.
“CBP’s failure to operate America’s northern ports at pre-pandemic hours is detrimental to North Idaho’s economy and way of life,” said Risch. “My legislation would return northern ports to at minimum pre-pandemic hours and allow Idahoans to once again access vital commerce, tourism, trade, travel, and more.”
“It’s important to many North Dakotans and our state’s economy that ports of entry with Canada are accessible. CBP recently announced that it will not maintain extended hours at the Maida and Northgate ports of entry. This decision will make it harder to conduct business, particularly for farmers during the summer. Our bill will require CBP to extend operating hours at these northern border crossings and expand trade and cooperation with one of our closest allies,” said Armstrong.
“Returning ports of entry on America’s northern border to longer, pre-pandemic hours is necessary for commerce and is essential to maintaining national security as a means to prevent illegal immigration,” said Crapo. “North Idaho’s economy relies on the free flow of people and goods between our state and Canada. CBP must extend its operating hours to accommodate the needs on both sides of the border.”
“Folks along Montana’s northern border rely on consistent trade and commerce with Canada to make a living and support their families,” said Tester. “Our northern ports have been operating at reduced hours for far too long, and it’s time for the Biden Administration to listen to Montanans and reopen them to pre-pandemic hours. Canada is Montana’s largest trading partner, and I won’t stop fighting until Montana’s producers and small businesses are able to resume business as usual along our border.”
“It is essential for Montana communities, businesses and families that our ports of entry with Canada are accessible,” said Daines. “I urge the Biden administration to fully reopen the Northern border – Montanans are counting on it.”
“Our northern border communities, including in North Dakota, rely on legal trade and travel with Canada,” said Hoeven. “That’s why we’ve been pressing CBP to resume pre-pandemic hours of operation at northern border crossings. Doing so would enable goods and people to move more efficiently, helping to address supply chain issues while supporting our ag, energy and tourism industries, among other priorities.”
“Life is back to normal, and we all know the COVID-19 pandemic is over,” said Cramer. “Instead of returning all Northern Border Port of Entry hours to pre-pandemic levels, North Dakotans and border communities are forced to contend with shorter hours. It’s time to restore hours of operation at our border to previous levels and end this saga.”
“The Public Health Emergency is over and business needs to return to normal for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ports of entry along the northern border,” Fulcher said. “I look forward to the permanent restoration of entry hours. The constituents I represent in Idaho deserve nothing less.”
In June, Risch led a bicameral, bipartisan letter, also signed by Senators Crapo, Tester, Hoeven, Daines, Cramer, and Representatives Fulcher, Armstrong, Zinke, and Rosendale, to CBP demanding northern ports expand the hours of operations at ports of entry in Idaho and other northern states or, at minimum, match the operating hours with their adjacent Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) ports. That letter is available here.
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