Tester Introduces Bill to Restore Hours of Entry, Open Northern Ports for Trade
Senator’s legislation follows months of pressure on Biden Administration
Following months of pressuring the Biden Administration to reopen Montana’s northern ports of entry to pre-pandemic hours, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today introduced a bipartisan bill requiring U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s hours of operations at northern ports to match or exceed pre-pandemic hours.
“Folks along Montana’s northern border rely on consistent trade and commerce with Canada to make a living and support their families,” said Tester. “Our northern ports have been operating at reduced hours for far too long, and it’s time for the Biden Administration to listen to Montanans and reopen them to pre-pandemic hours. Canada is Montana’s largest trading partner, and I won’t stop fighting until Montana’s producers and small businesses are able to resume business as usual along our border.”
Tester has been an outspoken critic of the Biden Administration’s refusal to reinstate pre-pandemic hours of service at northern ports of entry.
Earlier this year, Tester led a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) pressing the agency to return the hours of operations at northern ports of entry to pre-pandemic hours or, at minimum, match the operating hours of Canadian ports. Most recently in June, Tester called on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas directly to listen to Montanans and resume full hours of service.
In February, Tester called on the Biden Administration to fully reopen all ports of entry in Montana to pre-pandemic hours and terminate the vaccination requirements for Canadian truck drivers entering the United States through land ports of entry. His letter came directly after meeting with Montana farmers and business owners who rely on trade and travel across the northern border via ports like Raymond, Opheim, and Morgan.
Tester has also pushed for additional staffing and security along the northern border. Tester was the only member of the Montana delegation to support the 2023 government funding bill, which including funding to hire additional Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and U.S. Border Patrol agents, support local law enforcement along the border, and improve northern border operations.
Montana shares a 545 mile border with Canada and is home to many border towns whose economies rely on Canadian trade and commerce. According to the Canadian Trade Commissioner, Canada is Montana’s top international trading partner, buying more from the state than the next six states combined. Reports by the U.S. Trade Representative estimate that Montana exported $692 million in goods to Canada is 2018, representing 42 percent of the state’s total goods exports.