Cantwell, Murray Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Facilitate Travel and Commerce with Canada, Increase National Security

Bill Paves Way for Expanded Preclearance Facilities in Canada

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray introduced bipartisan legislation to facilitate travel and commerce between the United States and Canada. The Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act paves the way for expansion of preclearance facilities, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, at land, rail, marine, and air ports of departure in Canada.

Expanding preclearance operations will be on the table for further discussion when Prime Minister Trudeau arrives next week for the first state visit to Washington, D.C. by a Canadian leader in two decades.  The two governments reached an agreement about preclearance on March 16, 2015 and the bill introduced today is a necessary step toward implementing that agreement. The legislation ensures that the U.S. has the legal authority to hold U.S. officials accountable if they engage in wrongdoing while stationed in Canada – a prerequisite to full implementation of this agreement.

Several sites in British Columbia are currently considering expanded preclearance operations including Vancouver rail and cruise ship locations and ferry operations at Victoria Harbor. These preclearance operations would facilitate expedited commerce and travel between Canada and Washington state and will have a significant impact on Washington’s economy.

“Washington State and Canada share close economic ties – from fish and fruit to technology and tourism – representing more than $25 billion in annual trade and 223,300 jobs. With this agreement, Washington can continue to build on our economic relationship with Canada, while enhancing security aimed at stopping potential terrorists from reaching our shores or crossing our borders,” said Senator Cantwell.

“As a senator from a border state, I believe we should be constantly looking at ways to make our security systems smarter and more effective, and this bill moves us toward that goal,”Senator Murray said. “I’m proud to support legislation that improves mobility between Washington state and Canada while enhancing security—benefitting citizens, travelers, and our regional economy.”

The United States currently operates preclearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries, including Canada.  These facilities allow travelers to pass through CBP inspections prior to traveling, expediting their arrival in the United States, and protecting national security by preventing those who should not be traveling to the United States from doing so before they arrive.  Under a new agreement, the United States can expand its preclearance operations in Canada.

In addition to Senators Cantwell and Murray, the other cosponsors of the Senate bill are Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).

Representative Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.-01) introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives.