The Southwest Border Commission could get $33 million in congressional funding if supported by the Senate

A federally formed commission oversees the border economy from California to Texas, but was never fully funded

A worker cleans near an American flag and Christmas decorations at the nearly empty El Paso International Airport amid a surge of COVID-19 cases on November 12, 2020 in El Paso, Texas. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A regional federal commission created by Congress 13 years ago to oversee economic activity along the entire southwest border could get a $33 million boost as part of of the Build Back Better Act passed by the House, Border Report has learned.

The Southwest Boundary Regional Commission is one of seven federal commissions formed nationwide to oversee economic activity in major regions. However, this particular commission was never fully funded and only received its first appropriations from Congress last year.

If the Senate passes the Build Back Better Act, as currently approved by the House, the Southwest Boundary Regional Commission would receive $33 million and be fully funded through 2031, a spokesperson said. from U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, to Border Report.

In July 2020, Cuellar, who serves as vice chairman of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, helped appropriate $250,000 for the commission. These are the first funds allocated to it since its creation by Congress in 2008.

Cuellar said the commission was needed to “build critical infrastructure, grow our workforce and strengthen our communities.”

His office said the money was only for one year and helped provide administrative resources and start organizing the full commission.

But the additional $33 million — part of the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better Act the House passed earlier this month — would allow the commission to operate fully.

The Senate is expected to vote next month on the controversial measure, which the Biden administration is pushing and which some conservative Republicans oppose.

Graphic source: Congressional Research Service

The commission, by law, oversees 93 counties located on the southwest border, from southern California to the Gulf of Mexico in southern Texas. But he was never active.

There is a need, Cuellar said in a news bulletin, “to address economic distress in southern border regions in or near major land entry points.”

If funding is received, full implementation could take about a year, his office said.

Four of the country’s seven regional commissions are funded and active. This includes:

  • The Appalachian Regional Commission
  • Delta Regional Authority
  • The Denali Commission (in Alaska)
  • The Northern Frontier Regional Commission

These commissions focus on regional infrastructure issues; energy; ecology, environment, natural resources; labor, labor; and business development, according to an April report from the Congressional Research Service.

Besides the Southwest Regional Border Commission, neither the Northern Great Plains Regional Authority nor the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission are active, according to the report.

Committee heads are appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the Senate and state governors, one of whom is appointed as state co-chair.

Border Report has contacted the offices of Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and awaiting comments.

Sandra Sanchez can be reached at [email protected]

Aurora J. William