Congresswoman Escobar, Members of Border Congressional Delegation Reintroduce the Binational Health Strategies Act to Protect Border Communities Against COVID-19
Washington, March 4, 2021
Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16), along with original cosponsors members of the U.S.-Mexico Border Congressional Delegation: Representatives Juan Vargas (CA-51), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Tony Gonzales (TX-23), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15), and Filemon Vela (TX-34), announced the reintroduction of H.R. 1538, the Binational Health Strategies Act of 2021 in the 117th Congress.
This bipartisan legislation is designed to protect border communities against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by amending the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission Act to direct the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission to assemble a report on COVID-19 response along the border and create binational plans addressing COVID-19 and future infectious diseases. The Binational Health Strategies Act of 2021 was first introduced during the 116th Congress by Congresswoman Escobar in October 2020.
“As vaccine access expands in the United States, it is imperative to keep in mind that this deadly global pandemic won’t be defeated anywhere until it is defeated everywhere,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “With over 517,000 American and 187,000 Mexican lives lost to COVID-19, both countries must work together to fight this deadly virus. The Binational Health Strategies Act of 2021 would facilitate cross-border collaboration and protect the lives, livelihoods, and economies of our border communities – from Texas to California.”
“Many of the people living along the border are essential workers that don’t have the privilege of working from home. This is one of many contributing factors of COVID-19’s disproportionate impacts on the border region. At this point, we need to coordinate binational strategies to effectively combat this pandemic,” said Congressman Vargas. “I’m proud to join Representative Escobar in introducing the Binational Health Strategies Act which will help coordinate COVID-19, and future infectious disease prevention efforts between Mexico and the U.S.”
“The US-Mexico Border Health Commission is uniquely situated to help our border communities respond to the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Congressman Grijalva. “It is clear this public health crisis transcends borders, and our responses must reflect the reality of the situation on the ground. Without a clear data-based strategy to address the pandemic on both sides of the border, our border communities will continue to suffer. I am pleased to support this bill and will work to get the US-Mexico Border Commission the resources it needs to make this plan a reality.”
“As a representative of a border district, I am proud to support the Binational Health Strategies Act,” said Congresswoman Kirkpatrick. “The pandemic has taken a grave toll on our border communities, and we must call on the U.S.-Mexico Border Health Commission to create a thoughtful, strong, and transparent COVID-19 border mitigation strategy to protect lives and livelihoods. The Binational Health Strategies Act will help safeguard the lives and economies of our border communities and prepare districts like mine to combat future public health emergencies.”
“As our border communities have been hit hard by the pandemic, we must ensure that we have the proper tools to stop the spread of COVID-19 and future infectious diseases,” said Congressman Gonzales. “This bipartisan legislation will push to create an action plan that protects our health and international commerce along the border.”
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that infectious diseases have no borders,” said Congressman Cuellar. “This legislation will increase collaboration between the United States and Mexico to enhance access to health data, testing, medicines, and more in order to contain outbreaks and improve the delivery of healthcare on the border. As a border representative, I am committed to expanding our historic alliance to overcome these unprecedented times and to restore our bilateral prosperity.”
“What affects Mexico affects South Texas. COVID-19 has devastated communities on both sides of the border and impacted our economies and way of life,” said Congressman Gonzalez. “The best path forward is for a coordinated, binational approach to tackle and defeat this virus. I’m proud to join this effort to define a plan to curb the spread of the coronavirus, increase testing and vaccinations for both countries.”
“I am proud to support legislation focused on science-backed action and commonsense plans to address the rapid spread of COVID-19 along the U.S.-Mexico border. With the recent changes to Texas’ COVID-19 strategy, it is now more imperative than ever that we take responsible measures so that the border region does not experience additional, unnecessary loss,” said Congresswoman Vela. “The Binational Health Strategies Act will ensure that communities on both sides of the border are prepared to mitigate and curb this deadly disease and, importantly, are prepared to respond to any future health crises. I gladly join my colleagues in sponsoring legislation that will directly contribute to the health and safety of our border communities.”
“NRHA applauds Congresswoman Escobar for reintroducing the Binational Health Strategies Act which requires the U.S. Mexico Border Health Commission to review the region’s response to COVID-19, as well as plan to address this and other infectious disease outbreaks in the future,” said Alan Morgan, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Health Association. “Allowing the Commission to study the current outbreak and make plans for the future is critical in supporting the communities on our southern border, especially in the more rural communities.”
The Binational Health Strategies Act of 2021:
In addition to being cosponsored by members of the U.S.-Mexico Border Congressional Delegation, the Binational Health Strategies Act of 2021 is cosponsored by Democratic Members of the U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group Representatives Salud Carbajal (CA-24) and Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18). This bipartisan legislation is endorsed by the National Rural Health Association.