Should the U.S. & Mexico Partner on Economic Initiatives?
Do you support or oppose the U.S.-Mexico Economic Partnership Act?
by Legislative Vehicle 'Junkyard' | 12.21.20
This summary represents the initial version of H.R. 133: United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act, different versions of which passed the House and Senate before the bill was amended to serve as the legislative vehicle for an omnibus appropriations bill for FY2021 plus a coronavirus relief measure.
What is House Bill H.R. 133?
This bill — the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act — would aim to promote economic partnership and cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico through academic exchanges, entrepreneurship, and infrastructure integration which use grants from the 100,000 Strong in Americas Initiative. The legislation includes sections related to education, entrepreneurship, infrastructure, and medical training, breakdowns of which can be found below.
This bill would make it U.S. policy to increase U.S.-Mexico academic exchanges at the secondary, post-secondary, and post-graduate levels with an eye toward doubling the number of exchange students studying in each country within five years. Priority would be given to strengthening ties between communities and academic institutions in those portions of the United States and Mexico that are within 100 kilometers of the international boundary between those countries.
The president would be responsible for developing a plan to implement policies and programs that support cooperation, training, and mentoring of entrepreneurs. Such policies and programs should seek to provide at least 100 grants of up to $25,000 each for program participants to better leverage participation by the private sector.
The president would be responsible for developing a plan to implement policies and programs that promote U.S.-Mexico energy infrastructure coordination and cooperation through support of vocational-level education, internships, and exchanges between the two countries. Those policies and programs would seek to provide education, internships, and exchanges for at least 1,000 program participants.
The president would be responsible for developing a plan to implement a pilot program to develop a pipeline between undergraduate colleges and universities in the U.S. and medical school programs in Mexico. This program should be utilized to prepare medical students to become doctors who can pass U.S. medical licensing board exams. The pilot program should seek to increase the number of bilingual medical professionals in a cost-effective manner who can practice in U.S. underserved communities.
Argument In Favor
America’s economic relationship with Mexico is longstanding, and needs to be reaffirmed. Bolstering both countries’ academic institutions, entrepreneurs, infrastructure, and medical training will benefit both nations.
There are already many forms of economic and academic exchange between the U.S. and Mexico, making this bill unnecessary. Other aspects of the U.S.-Mexico relationship, like border security, need more attention.
Students; medical students; entrepreneurs; infrastructure; U.S.; Mexico; and the president.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 133
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost less than $500,00 a year, for a total of less than $2 million over the 2019-2023 period.
In-Depth: Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) re-introduced this bill, which he previously introduced in the 115th Congress to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico on a range of commercial, cultural, and educational priorities:
“Mexico is the United States’ second-largest export market and third-largest trading partner; the relationship between our two countries runs deep and bridges commercial, cultural, and educational divides. This is why I introduced the United States-Mexico Economic Partnership Act. Increasing academic exchanges in the energy, business, education, and health sectors will increase economic prosperity in both nations and allow us to further capitalize on the strengths each country has to offer.”
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), speaking on the floor in support of this bill at its House Foreign Affairs Committee markup, called it an important expression of support for Mexico:
“Our partnerships with foreign countries are important for economic development as well, especially when it comes to our neighbors… Mexico is a friend and ally...our third-largest trading partner...and a country with which we share extraordinarily close cultural and familial ties. This bill requires the Secretary of State to expand educational and professional exchange programs with Mexico. It’s important that we send a strong message to the Mexican people that the United States Congress will not walk away from them despite the damage that has been done to its relationship in recent months and years.”
This bill's 116th Congress version has two cosponsors, including one Republican and one Democrat. In the 115th Congress, it passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs unanimously with the support of four cosponsors, all of whom were Democrats.
Of Note: Mexico is one of America's top three trading partners, with an estimated $615 billion in two-way trade between the two countries in 2017. However, despite the closeness of this economic relationship, not many Mexican students study in the U.S. In the 2015-2016 academic year, over 56,000 U.S. students studied in other countries in the Western Hemisphere and over 84,000 non-U.S. students from the region studied in the U.S., but only 5,000 U.S. students studied in Mexico and only 16,000 Mexican students studied in the U.S.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / MicroStockHub)
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