Kelly, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Reauthorize, Fully Fund Southwest Border Regional Commission

Legislation would help strengthen economic development efforts, modernize infrastructure, and improve quality of life in southern border communities

Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, alongside Senate colleagues, introduced the Southwest Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act, legislation to reauthorize and fully fund the Southwest Border Regional Commission (SBRC). The SBRC is one of eight authorized federal regional commissions and authorities that are congressionally-chartered, federal-state partnerships created to promote economic development in their regions.   

The bill is led by Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and cosponsored by Senators Kelly (D-AZ), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), and Laphonza Butler (D-CA).  

“The Southwest Border Regional Commission is poised to accelerate much-needed economic development in Arizona by improving water infrastructure, investing in hospitals, and supporting small business,” said Kelly. “That’s why I’ve worked to stand up and fund this commission, and with this legislation, we’ll bring investment and development to communities throughout the southwestern United States.”     

“For years, I have fought to deliver federal investments to support economic development and modernize our infrastructure across southern New Mexico. As part of that work, I have pushed to make sure Congress fully funds the Southwest Border Regional Commission to build prosperous and thriving southern border communities in New Mexico and our neighboring states of Arizona, California, and Texas,” said Heinrich. “Now, I am proud to introduce legislation to reauthorize the Commission and increase its annual funding to better establish this region as a hub of economic progress, connect New Mexicans to the careers they can build their families around, and provide the next generation with the opportunities they need to thrive in their communities.”    

“I’m proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation to reauthorize and fully fund the Southwest Border Regional Commission – helping boost economic development opportunities in southern New Mexico,” said Luján. “With robust funding, this Commission can continue their work to create more job opportunities, expand broadband access, and address health care shortages which will improve the well-being of New Mexico families.”   

“The Southwest Border Regional Commission is an important opportunity for investment in the economic development and basic infrastructure needs of border communities,” said Padilla. “The reauthorization and full funding of this commission will increase job opportunities in border communities, including through helping address severe water sector workforce shortages and inadequate wastewater infrastructure in the region. Crucially, this bill would also waive burdensome matching requirements for Colonias and Tribes in border communities receiving federal assistance through the commission.”   

“Right now, small and rural communities along Arizona’s southern border are managing a crisis they did not create. Reauthorizing the Southwest Border Regional Commission will expand economic opportunities as we work to craft lasting solutions to the security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border,” said Sinema.   

The Southwest Border Regional Commission Reauthorization Act would:   

  • Fully fund SBRC: Greatly increase federal grants to New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Texas, authorizing $100 million in funding for Fiscal Years 2023 – 2027 (FY23-FY27), and $200 million for Fiscal Years 2028 to 2032 (FY28-FY32). Currently, the SBRC is authorized at $33 million in funding for Fiscal Years 2019 – 2023 (FY19-23).   
  • Expand SBRC’s jurisdiction to include the following counties: Bernalillo, Cibola, Curry, De Baca, Guadalupe, Roosevelt, Torrance, and Valencia, as well as Guadalupe County, TX.    
  • Establish new capacity building grant program for projects such as business expansion and retention, job creation, workforce development, high-speed broadband, and more.     
  • Establish new planning grants to address health care shortages in border communities.   

Congress first authorized the establishment of the SBRC in 2008 and the Commission was first funded in the Kelly-negotiated Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The SBRC promotes economic development in the southwest region, which includes portions of New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Texas.