Tester Takes Lead on Bipartisan Border Security Negotiations

Senator Meets Face-to-Face with Homeland Security Secretary, Bipartisan Group of Senators

(U.S. Senate) – With just 15 days to strike a long-term budget agreement, U.S. Senator Jon Tester is taking the lead on bipartisan border security negotiations.

Tester met this week with Homeland Security Secretary Kristjen Nielsen and a bipartisan group of Senators to build a border security plan that will increase manpower on the borders and boost access to new security technologies. Tester is the Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, which sets funding levels for security and law enforcement along the northern and southern borders.

“I refuse to let partisan politics and Washington dysfunction derail my push to strengthen our borders,” Tester said. “I am going to keep the pressure turned up on both parties and make sure folks stay at the negotiating table until we have an agreement to make a responsible investment to increase security on the northern and southern borders.”

Tester sat down with Nielsen on Tuesday afternoon and he facilitated a meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators on Tuesday evening. Tester will again meet with the bipartisan group of Senators to discuss a border security plan on Wednesday.

Tester is pushing for any border security agreement to include the following provisions:

  • Hire up to 500 new Customs and Border Patrol officers annually until the 3,600 Customs and Border Patrol shortage is addressed.
  • Invest in new technologies, vehicles, roads, and facilities to better secure the borders.
  • Require Border Patrol Agents to use fiber optic detection technology to better detect border crossings.
  • Provide Operation Stonegarden grants to support local law enforcement in their efforts to secure our borders.
  • Require Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to report on the use of devices that monitor cell phone conversations along the border.
  • Encourage the Department of Homeland Security to purchase protective gear and uniforms that are made in the U.S.

After failing to pass a long-term budget for 116 days, Congress and the White House have until February 8 to reach a budget agreement.