Reps. Cuellar and McCaul Pass Bipartisan Bill Promoting US-MX Economic Partnership and Cooperation

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Promotes economic partnership with a focus on energy, health, entrepreneurship, and education sectors

Texas Border Business

WASHINGTON— Today, Congressmen Henry Cuellar (TX-28) and Michael McCaul (TX-10) announced the passage of H.R. 133, the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act, in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation will bolster professional development and economic growth in both countries, including in the border region in Texas, with a focus on the energy, health, entrepreneurship, and education sectors. It will next be sent to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

The goal of the bill is to promote a bilingual workforce that can better serve both sides of the border and increase economic development in the region. Its co-sponsors include Reps. David Cicilline (RI-1), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), and Brad Sherman (CA-30).

“The relationship between the United States and Mexico runs deep through commercial, cultural, and educational partnerships,” said Congressman Cuellar. “Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner, with an estimated $615 billion in two-way trade between the two countries in 2017. With this in mind, it is imperative that we strengthen these relations and foster economic growth for all partners involved.”

According to the Institute of International Education, in the 2015-2016 academic year, more than 56,000 U.S. students studied in other countries in the Western Hemisphere, while more than 84,000 non-U.S. students from the region studied in the U.S., but only 5,000 of those United States students studied in Mexico and only 16,000 of those non-U.S. students were from Mexico.

Increasing Bilateral Economic Integration

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Both countries have benefited from bilateral, mutually beneficial partnerships focused on advancing each country’s economic interests. Under the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act, the State Department would create a strategy to further support economic relations between the U.S. and Mexico through academic and professional programs to contribute to this goal.

Expanding Professional and Educational Exchange Programs

The State Department currently supports exchange programs with Mexico through grants from the 100,000 Strong in Americas initiative, which was founded in 2011. The program has provided more than 100 grants to 250 institutions in 25 countries. The measure will require the State Department to create a strategy that expands educational and professional exchange programs with Mexico through the initiative. Specifically, it will:

1.      Encourage more academic exchange programs at the secondary, post-secondary, and post-graduate levels, especially with communities and through academic institutions in the border region;

2.      Encourage academic institutions and businesses to collaborate to support entrepreneurs and joint business initiatives;

3.      Promote energy infrastructure coordination through vocational-level education and internships, particularly in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas; and

4.      Require the State Department to assess the feasibility of facilitating partnerships between universities and medical and nursing programs in both countries.

Congressman Cuellar said, “I introduced the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act so that we can continue to deepen our relationship with Mexico both through economic integration and educational programs. Increasing academic exchanges in the energy, business, education, and health sectors will increase economic prosperity in both nations and allow us to further capitalize on the strengths each country has to offer.”

He continued, “I would like to thank Congressman McCaul for co-sponsoring this bipartisan piece of legislation. I also thank House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel for taking up this bill and advancing it through committee. I look forward to seeing the bill through to passage.”

Congressman Michael McCaul said, “As the lead Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and former Chairman of the U.S.-Mexico Inter-Parliamentary Group, I have long advocated for enhancing and strengthening the close relationship with our southern neighbor. This legislation states our commitment to promoting the academic exchanges between our two countries in the fields of business, energy, and health care. I look forward to future opportunities to enhance our shared commitment to economic empowerment, and thank my friend and fellow Texan, Congressman Cuellar, for his leadership on this important issue.”

“The Border Trade Alliance appreciates the bipartisan leadership and collaboration between Rep. Cuellar and Rep. McCaul to strengthen the economic and educational bonds between the United States and Mexico,” Border Trade Alliance (BTA) President Ms. Britton Clarke said. “With this legislation, we are better preparing the border region workforce for tomorrow’s jobs, which will enhance the entire region’s economic competitiveness.”

Laredo Mayor and Texas Border Coalition (TBC) Chairman Pete Saenz said, “Border communities understand better than most that the United States grows stronger as the depth of our relationships with our neighbors grow deeper. This is especially true in terms of academic and economic relationships. The Texas Border Coalition salutes Representative Cuellar for his efforts to increase America’s strength by improving our relations with our neighbors.”

Read text of the bill language here.