Ensuring an efficient, yet safe border for people and goods to cross is crucial to the local economy and beyond.
That's why we give kudos to U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's efforts to do just that. Klobuchar serves as co-chair of the Canada-United States Inter Parliamentary Group, and has for years been working with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Canadian officials to improve security and efficiency at the northern border.
Klobuchar's close relationship with International Falls and understanding of the challenges at the 10 ports of entry along Minnesota's border with Canada is invaluable to improving cross-border travel and business.
She sponsored the Cross-Border Trade Enhancement Act of 2015, which encourages public-private partnerships to improve border security and trade by making improvements at ports of entry along the U.S.-Canada border. The bill is expected to become law.
Klobuchar said the International Falls port of entry was the inception for the bill, which will allow private entities, like railroads, airlines and trucking companies, to work in partnership with the government to help pay for upgrades at the ports. The bill could also assist with improvements at airports that serve as ports of entry like the Falls International Airport and Duluth.
While the businesses have their own interests in cutting wait times and making border crossings more efficient, their financial partnership would help alleviate the burden on taxpayers.
Clearly, International Falls needs some improvements at its land port of entry. That's not news. In 2009, federal officials acknowledged the Falls port facility had grown inadequate due to increased inspection duties and staff numbers after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. A plan to construct a new facility on a site near the existing red-white-and-blue building was developed by the General Services Administration, but shelved in 2012 when no funding was approved by Congress.
In addition, the Northern Border Security Review Act recently passed by the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House requires the Department of Homeland Security to evaluate security threats and the additional resources needed to protect the northern border. Klobuchar has already been involved in brief ins as a part of that act.
Klobuchar also serves on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, responsible for ensuring that U.S. exporters have the tools they need to sell their products abroad.
Two billion dollars in goods and services move across our shared border every day. Canada is the largest export market in the world for the United States and our second largest source of imports. Canada buys more goods from the United States than the entire European Union.
Thanks, senator, for staying on top of the economic value and strategic importance of the northern border.