Washington, DC – The following is the opening statement of U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management Subcommittee Ranking Member, from today’s hearing focusing on stimulus funding for land ports of entry and border station construction.
“Border stations are critical to our country for both security and trade. The Recovery Act provides GSA with $300 million for land ports of entry and border stations and GSA has identified eight projects in its spending plan for these funds. In addition, the Recovery Act also provided Customs and Border Protection with $420 million for land ports of entry within its jurisdiction.
“Although the hearing today is focused on border stations, it is important to highlight ongoing concerns, generally, about the so-called stimulus bill.
“On October 30th, the Administration released updated figures on the Recovery.gov website related to the number of jobs created and saved. That figure, over 640,000, was subsequently called into serious question following investigations by news organizations, the GAO, and Members of Congress. Despite the clear inaccuracy of these figures, they remain on the Administration’s website.
“The American people deserve better. At the very least, they deserve to have an accurate report card of how well nearly $800 billion of their money is actually working, particularly on a website that is costing the taxpayer an astounding $18 million.
“I have stated since before passage of the Recovery Act that the priority must be on stimulating the economy and creating jobs. Instead of seeing the unemployment rate decrease, we have seen an increase and now there are real questions as to how many jobs have actually been created by the Recovery Act.
“As we examine the specific issue of border stations today, there are real questions as to whether the taxpayer is, in fact, getting a good return on investment. While tens of millions of dollars are going to small ports of entry with just three to five vehicles a day, none of the funds are going to some of the busiest ports like Laredo, Texas that sees nearly 60,000 travelers and trucks daily. I hope we can get answers today on how many jobs have been created and how these projects were selected.”