Leahy 'Preclearance' Bill To Ease Vt.-Canada Rail & Air Travel Clears Congress Saturday Morning

Leahy-Authored Bill To Facilitate Preclearance Operations In Canada Passes Senate, Headed to President’s Desk

Legislation Needed To Facilitate Passenger Air And Rail Service Between Vermont And Canada, And Other Travel Destinations

[BREAKING] WASHINGTON (SATURDAY, Dec. 10, 2016) – The Senate Saturdayunanimously passed long-awaited legislation authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) to facilitate travel and commerce between the United States and Canada, the largest U.S. trading partner.

Passage of the bill Saturday morning was one of the last actions of the Senate of this congressional session. The legislation, which will now go to the President’s desk to be signed into law, is needed to facilitate air travel – and eventually, passenger rail service – between Burlington and Canadian cities, and between other U.S. and Canadian destinations.

In March, Leahy introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act. The bill paves the way for expansion of preclearance facilities, operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, at land, rail, marine and air ports of departure in Canada, easing travel and commerce between the two countries.

The Leahy-led bill promotes two key national goals: enhancing U.S. national security, and increasing efficiency for travelers and commercial exchanges. Leahy has long advocated improving cross-border travel and was the driving force behind this effort, forging the bipartisan and bicameral coalition and guiding its passage through the Senate.

Leahy said: “This agreement has long been a priority for Vermonters. It would make it possible to restore Amtrak service between Vermont and Quebec in the future. It’s a win for Vermont’s economy, and for Canadians who visit Vermont to sightsee, ski, shop and dine. This process has been a true bipartisan effort, at every level of government in both the United States and Canada have been fully supportive and engaged. Now, at last, we can confidently move to the next stages of getting passenger service to Montreal up and running. Many of us can’t wait to hear those first whistles blow.”

The United States currently operates preclearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries, including Canada. These facilities allow travelers to pass through Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspections prior to traveling, expediting their arrival in the United States, and protecting national security by preventing those who should not be traveling to the United States from doing so before they arrive. Under a new agreement, the United States will expand its preclearance operations in Canada. The Leahy-authored legislation ensures that the United States has the legal authority to hold U.S. officials accountable if they engage in wrongdoing while stationed in Canada – a necessary prerequisite to full implementation of this agreement.

The legislation will advance discussions regarding the creation of a preclearance facility at Montreal’s Central Station, reestablishing passenger train service between Vermont and Montreal, and it is a step forward in improving the air service between Burlington International Airport and Toronto City Airport. The United States currently stations CBP Officers in select locations in Canada to inspect passengers and cargo bound for the United States before they leave Canada. These operations relieve congestion at U.S. airports, improve commerce, save money, and provide national security benefits.

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