Cross-Border Rail Security Act of 2015by Representative Filemon Vela
Posted on 2015-09-28
VELA. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 2786, the Cross-Border Rail Security Act.
Mr. Speaker, in March of this year, the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general released a report on high-risk cross- border rail cargo. The report concluded that U.S. Customs and Border Protection, or CBP, did not always use the required radiation detection equipment to examine shipments it determined to be high risk. Additionally, some ports of entry lacked the appropriate equipment to conduct these screenings, and training and oversight of targeting and examining such shipments was lacking.
In response to these troubling findings, my bill would require the CBP Commissioner to submit to the relevant congressional committees within 180 days of enactment a report regarding high-risk cross-border rail cargo shipments entering the United States.
Mr. Speaker, my bill would require the report to include information on the number of high-risk shipments crossing the border by rail, details on the radiation detection units at rail crossings, an assessment of whether additional equipment is necessary, and a plan for ensuring that all relevant CBP personnel receive appropriate training to appropriately target, examine, and record the disposition of such shipments. The bill requires the Government Accountability Office to audit periodically CBP operations at rail crossings to ensure rail shipments are being appropriately targeted, examined, and documented.
The community I represent has a vested interest in securing cross- border rail cargo. This past August, I was proud to be a part of the opening of the West Rail Bypass International Bridge located in Brownsville, Texas, the first international new rail crossing between the U.S. and Mexico in over a century.
Both of our land borders are dotted with these crossings, and, in fact, the majority of them are located on the northern border. The cargo that crosses by rail is destined for locations all over the United States, making the effective targeting and examining of high- risk shipments a national concern.
Mr. Speaker, my committee colleagues unanimously supported this bill, and I urge all of my colleagues to help strengthen the cross-border rail security by supporting H.R. 2786.
Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.