In Committee Hearing, Higgins Says Slow, Sloppy & Adversarial U.S. Pandemic Response to Blame for Northern Border Closure
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) spoke during a House of Representatives Ways & Means committee hearing last week blaming the Trump Administration’s chaotic and failed response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the ongoing U.S.-Canada border closure set to expire next week.
Higgins said “The fact of the matter is, the poor handling of this pandemic by the federal government is as clear as it could be. 25% of the deaths from COVID-19 are Americans globally, with only 5% of the world’s population. The world is closed to Americans, and to America. Americans aren’t welcome in Canada; Americans aren’t welcome in 27 European countries.” Higgins later continued, “The United States federal government response was slow, sloppy, and adversarial. I represent an area that sits on the Canadian border, both the city of Buffalo and the city of Niagara Falls. I’m trying to get the border open with Canada. There is only one statistic that matters every single morning when they reevaluate that, and that is the number of cases that you have per 100,000 population, and we in the United States, our COVID-19 cases are seven times that which is in Canada today.”
The border between the U.S. and Canada first closed due to the pandemic on March 24th. The border crossing restrictions have previously been extended multiple times. The first extension was through May 20, then June 22, July 21, and August 21 with the current order expiring September 21. Higgins, who serves as Chair of the Congressional Northern Border Caucus has fought to expand essential crossings to allow people to check on property and be with family. He is also calling on the Administration to develop a framework to prepare for reopening.
During the Ways & Means Committee hearing, Higgins also criticized the Senate for their failure to pass legislation that would provide state and local governments on the front lines of COVID-19 with relief funding. In May the House passed the HEROES Act which would provide emergency federal funding to communities & families impacted by the pandemic. After 5 months, the Senate only recently revealed a proposed “skinny bill” which left out major portions of the House bill and Higgins labeled as “skeletal.”
Higgins said, “In a time of national emergency, we depend on the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, to marshal the resources of the federal government to ensure that the states and counties and cities have the assistance – the money that they need – to respond on the ground to protect the citizens.”