Tester strengthens 9/11 bill with northern border amendment

Senator also vows to fight to keep missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base

(MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont.) – The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will have to report to Congress about the needs and weaknesses of America's northern border in states like Montana, under an amendment to the upcoming 9/11 bill proposed by Senator Jon Tester.

Tester detailed the amendment, his first since becoming a U.S. senator, during a news conference at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great   Falls.  The Senate has already agreed to include the measure in the Improving America's Security Act of 2007, which turns into law the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

In addition to requiring the Department of Homeland Security to report to Congress about the status of the northern border, Tester's amendment also requires the agency to recommend ways of improving security along America's 3,145-mile border with Canada.

"This will give us a clear picture of the risks along our border and it will make sure we're aware of what we need to make it as safe as possible," Tester said.  "In the worldwide War on Terrorism, we need to be just as vigilant at places like the Port of Sweetgrass as we are in the mountains of Afghanistan."

Earlier Tuesday, Tester got a firsthand look at Malmstrom Air Force base's operations, including tours of silos that house Minuteman III missiles. He told base commanders he plans to fight a recent proposal to move 50 of Malmstrom's missiles out of Montana.  Tester has already told the Secretary of the Air Force he opposes the plan.

"Malmstrom has a critical role when it comes to our national security, and I am strongly against any plan—like removing 50 missiles—that will weaken that role," Tester said. "The folks here at Malmstrom do fine work protecting our country and our state, and I'll fight to make sure Malmstrom's mission only expands."

The U.S. Senate is expected to begin debate on the Improving America's Security Act of 2007 later this month.