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May 25, 2013

Owens wants brakes put on border fee

PLATTSBURGH — North Country Congressman Bill Owens has sponsored an amendment that would halt the proposed study of a border fee.

The amendment would prevent the Department of Homeland Security from using any funding to study or implement border-crossing fees for passenger vehicles and pedestrians at the northern and southern borders, according to a news release from Owens’s office.

“The idea of charging a border fee is wrong-headed, and the damage done to economic development and tourism along the border would cost more than the government could ever collect through fees,” Owens said.

“This amendment will bar the use of funds to study or implement a border fee, stopping the idea in its tracks. I am hopeful this amendment will continue through the legislative process and help convince DHS that it’s time to drop the idea altogether.”

BUDGET BILL

Owens introduced the amendment as part of the Homeland Security Appropriations bill. It will be included in the bill when it comes to the floor of the House for a vote later this year.

As co-chairman of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus, Owens has opposed the border fee since it was first brought up.

The proposal to study a border fee was included in Homeland Security’s 2014 budget request.

According to the department’s budget submission, the study would assess “the feasibility and cost relating to establishing and collecting a land border crossing fee.” 

The proposed fee would apply to both the northern and southwest borders of the United States. Homeland Security would require completion of the study within nine months of enactment.

JOB-CREATION FUNDS

In other border news, the Northern Border Regional Commission announced the availability of grant funding for job-creation projects in eligible northern border communities.

Owens is urging constituents to apply for the funds.

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