Tester Helps Lead First Bipartisan Border Security Negotiations

Tester: "Let's Roll Up Our Sleeves and Get to It"

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester today helped lead a bipartisan group of lawmakers tasked with crafting border security legislation after Congress reached a short-term deal last week to end the 35-day government shutdown.

Tester, the Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, expressed his commitment to strengthening border security and avoiding another disastrous government shutdown.

“I think it’s clear by now that bipartisanship in Washington is rare-but it isn’t dead,” Tester said. “We need to act like the co-equal branch of government that we are. And we’ve got a group here today that has a real shot at coming together to write a bill to send to the President that secures our borders, addresses our humanitarian crisis, and funds our government.”

Tester, who last year helped write legislation to provide more than $21 billion for border security and immigration enforcement for fiscal year 2019, called for that bill to serve as a starting point as the committee works out a balanced solution.

“A balanced approach to border security should be a roadmap – and many of the measures we funded in the Senate bill can serve as a starting point as we work together to craft a deal we can all agree on,” Tester said. “We have to address the situation at our border, particularly the growing humanitarian crisis of families and children fleeing violence in Central America…We have to find cost-effective solutions to border security that actually work, and that includes using everything in our toolbox…We have to beef up the security at our ports of entry…We need a true cost-benefit analysis that takes into account the outsized expense of physical barriers versus technology…We need to ensure that any investments we make don’t come at the expense of other Department of Homeland Security priorities…and we need to do it all without treating American taxpayers like an ATM.”

The bipartisan committee includes Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dick Durbin of Illinois, Republican Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Roy Blunt of Missouri, as well as members of the United States House of Representatives.

Earlier this month, Tester gave an impassioned speech on the Senate Floor demanding a vote to re-open the government. With over 7,000 affected workers, numerous Tribal Nations, and two of the busiest National Parks in the country, Montana was one of the states hit hardest by the longest government shutdown in American history.