This story is part of Watching Washington, a regular dispatch from CBC News correspondents reporting on U.S. politics and developments that affect Canadians.
The United States must make it a priority to ship vaccines across the border to Canada and Mexico once Americans are inoculated against COVID-19, says a U.S. lawmaker.
Vicente Gonzalez says he’s looking forward to when the U.S. can ease up on its export ban that has prevented foreign shipments of doses produced in the country.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration, like the Trump administration before it, has blocked exports and rebuffed requests from Canada and Mexico for supplies.
“The borders are closed in my district. Mexican nationals with visas who normally travel here or own second homes [or] come and do business here, are not allowed across the border right now,” the Democratic lawmaker, whose Texas district sits along part of the Mexican border, told CNN Monday.
“So we definitely need to immunize our friends across the border at some point, once we’re finished doing it here in our country.”
Gonzalez said the U.S. will only truly recover from the pandemic when its neighbours are safe, too.
“I think we have five vaccines for every American, so we certainly have some extra vaccines that we could share with other countries — especially somebody like Mexico or Canada who we do a lot of business with … where a lot of commerce and tourism flow on a regular basis,” Gonzalez said in the interview.
“So we don’t live in this world, isolated. It’s a global community, and certainly North America is a very tight-knit community. We have relatives on both sides of the border, we do business on both sides of the border, whether it’s Canada or Mexico.”
Gonzalez’s comments point to a question that will only intensify over the coming months, about what happens to the massive production capacity within the United States once export bans are lifted on plants like Pfizer’s in Michigan and Moderna’s in New England.
The United States has vaccinated residents at quadruple the rate of Canada and Biden says there should be enough vaccines for all Americans by the end of July.
That likely puts the U.S. schedule months ahead of Canada’s.