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Congressman Tim Walberg

Representing the 7th District of Michigan

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Monroe News: Troubled Waters: Politicians lend voice to port’s struggles

August 25, 2019
Tim In The News

Some policy problems just aren’t partisan.

The Port of Monroe’s international shipping struggles with U. S. Customs and Border Protection have spanned two presidential administrations — the late years of President Barack Obama and the early years of President Donald Trump — but Paul LaMarre III, port director, thinks political agendas have little to do with the issue.

“I don’t think it’s political at all,” LaMarre said. “It’s more of an abuse of regulatory discretion.”

The port’s plight has drawn support from both sides of the aisle, LaMarre said, pointing to the contributions of U.S. Sen, Gary Peters, D-Mich., and U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton.

 “The community’s economic sustainability is inherently a bipartisan issue,” LaMarre said. “Subsequently, we’ve had support from all sides.”

Both Peters and Walberg have used their presence in Washington to explore CBP’s guidelines.

LaMarre said Walberg has been an ally, often throwing his support behind the port.

“Having a thriving port brings new commerce to the region, and I’ll continue working to engage with CBP and help generate more economic opportunity for Monroe,” Walberg said.

Peters is a ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. He has been vocal in questioning CBP’s guidelines, often highlighting their impact on the port.

“I am concerned that the Detroit Field Office is applying an arbitrary and potentially unauthorized standard to Michigan sea ports that is not consistent with ports across the country, unnecessarily causing economic harm to the port and the region,” Peters said in a press release.

He recently submitted a letter to Mark Morgan, acting commissioner of CBP, inquiring as to why the standards for Michigan ports varied compared to others on the Great Lakes.

Peters previously has sought clarification on the guidelines, including when the port’s deals with Ford and Arauco unraveled.

LaMarre said he’s pleased that elected officials realize just how far the issue reaches.

“It’s a testament that we have fought the good fight and tried to do the right thing on behalf of the community we are trying to support,” he said. “It is extremely rewarding to be in a government atmosphere where our legislators are holding regulatory agencies accountable.”

LaMarre urges Monroe residents to reach out to their elected officials, on all levels, to discuss the issue.

This article originally appeared in the August 25 edition of the Monroe News.

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