Washington DC (WNEWS) – American politicians are fuming over news that the border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another month. They decried the latest prolongation on Friday as overly cautious, unfounded in science and unclear.
Canada on Friday extended the border closures for another month to July 21, 2021, as the current extension was expected to end on Monday. The border closures were first placed in March 2020 after The World Health Organization declared the pandemic to help slow the spread of the COVID19 virus.
“I wish there were a more artful way to say this — but this is bullshit,” said Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democratic congressman whose Buffalo, N.Y., district touches the border.
“It’s arbitrary. It doesn’t follow the science, it doesn’t follow the facts, it doesn’t follow the data.”- Rep. Brian Higgins
Higgins’s state is the No. 1 source of cross-border travellers to Canada, and 62 percent of New York state’s adults have been fully vaccinated; COVID-19 cases and deaths there have plunged.
And he’s not typically a firebrand on cross-border affairs. Higgins frequently speaks about his connections to Canada, resisted when the last administration threatened a new NAFTA without Canada and urged the current administration to send more vaccines.
Now, politicians from both U.S. parties are pressing President Joe Biden to move ahead unilaterally — and fling open America’s border to Canadian travel. A senior Republican from New York, Rep. Elise Stefanik, demanded a unilateral reopening in a recent letter to the administration — urging Biden to get tougher with his Canadian counterpart.
Biden “missed a huge opportunity at the G7 summit to stand up for America and deliver a plan to reopen safely,” Stefanik said in a statement Friday. “Instead, caving to Prime Minister Trudeau’s incessant desire to delay.”
In Ottawa, one official said Friday that there hasn’t actually been much pressure from Biden’s administration to reopen immediately. But Biden is getting pressure at home.
That pressure is coming from powerful senators. For his part, Higgins has also been calling and writing to administration officials to reopen the U.S. unilaterally. He says he believes the administration is considering a unilateral move but that bureaucratic inertia is bogging it down.
“Nobody’s making a decision. You speak to [U.S.] cabinet secretaries, everybody says the right thing, and then everybody has to bring it to a task force,” Higgins said. “We need someone to make a decision. The person to make that decision is the president of the United States and the prime minister of Canada. They’re men of goodwill.”
Another lawmaker from New York, Republican Rep. Chris Jacobs, introduced a bill to demand details of what the national governments have been telling each other behind the scenes. The White House declined to comment on the Canadian announcement and said it has working groups discussing the border reopening with Canada and other countries.