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20120113_Cuellar_0025MISSION — U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar told community business leaders he would push for an amendment that would allow municipalities to collect its own money to improve infrastructure at ports of entry.

He made his comments on Wednesday as part of a brief Legislative update at the Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce’s Buenas Tardes luncheon. Listening to Cuellar’s comments were members of the chamber as well as mayors for Mission, McAllen and La Joya.

As the federal government, through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, makes the ultimate decision to approve infrastructure improvements, Cuellar said steps are being made to allow any local entity that wants to provide funding to a bridge infrastructure to allow the secretary of homeland security approve the private or public entity to do so.

“That way the community can say, ‘You know what, we’re willing to put our money where our mouth is and we want to go ahead and do this,’ and they’re allowed to go ahead,” Cuellar said.

The change could help all local bridges expand.

Cuellar said he’s already approached Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and she said there should be no issue in accepting private or public funding for bridge infrastructure improvements.

He also said he expects the amendment to go before legislators in late February.

“That way we can help any local community, like Anzalduas bridge, to be able to do that (with the) private sector or the public sector,” he said. “…So we can help keep the traffic moving so we don’t have parking lots in the middle of the bridge.”

In November, Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas criticized the federal government for not approving infrastructure improvements at the Anzalduas International Bridge. Texas Transportation Commission awarded $7 million for four-to-six additional northbound inspection booths.

At Wednesday’s briefing, Cuellar also discussed the ongoing redistricting issues, which went before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.

“I see the border as one region,” he said. “There’s a lot of work to be done here. I want to do my service. I certainly want to be part of the Valley.”

Cuellar said he anticipates the dispute to go on for another five years in court even after the maps are resolved.

“It’s going to go on for a while,” he said.

He also said he didn’t think Texas would have a primary on April 3. He also expects the primaries to not be split in order for counties to save money in holding elections and as a way to avoid voter fatigue.

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