Border Security & Government Funding Deal Crafted by Tester Includes Senator’s Montana, National Security Priorities

Montana national security priorities included in bipartisan deal to fund the government and Department of Homeland Security

(U.S. Senate) – Border security and government funding legislation that was crafted by U.S. Senator Jon Tester and a small bipartisan group of lawmakers was formally announced today and includes a number of key Tester priorities.

The agreement secures the largest-ever investment in technology to boost security at ports of entry – where the vast majority of dangerous drugs enter the United States – and gives law enforcement the tools necessary to secure the country’s borders between the ports, including surveillance technology, new airframes, and marine vessels. It also funds 600 additional Customs Officers and provides funding to address humanitarian concerns.

The bill also includes a number of Tester’s national security priorities for Montana, including the restoration of funding for the TSA Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement program to $46 million – a critical program for security in airports across the state. It also includes $90 million in funding for FEMA’s Operation Stonegarden- an important tool for northern border drug interdictions – and $700 million for the Assistance to Firefighters and SAFER grant programs.

“The bill our conference committee crafted is the result of Congress doing what it’s supposed to do – rolling up our sleeves and working across the aisle to keep Americans safe and provide the fiscal certainty they expect from their lawmakers,” Tester said. “It’s not a silver bullet, but it’ll go a long way towards giving law enforcement the tools they need and stem the flow of dangerous drugs through our ports.”

Tester, who last year helped write legislation to provide more than $21 billion for border security and immigration enforcement for fiscal year 2019, had called for that bill to serve as a starting point as the conference committee worked out a balanced solution. The final legislation closely mirrors Tester’s.

Overall, the bipartisan legislation provides nearly $50 billion in funding for the Department of Homeland Security and another $12 billion for major disaster response.

Tester, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, was named to the bipartisan conference committee three weeks ago after the Senate reached a deal to end the 35-day partial government shutdown.

The bipartisan group includes Democratic Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Dick Durbin of Illinois, as well as 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 a bipartisan group of lawmakers from the House of Representatives.

Last 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.

The final agreement also includes:

Customs and Border Protection:

  • The agreement provides $14.959 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). It funds 600 new CBP officers for deployment to our air and land ports. 
  • The agreement funds reliable and proven border security solutions, including: 
  • $100 million for border security technology between the ports on our southern and northern borders such as mobile surveillance capabilities and innovative towers.
  • $564 million for non-intrusive inspection equipment at our land-based ports of entry to scan inbound cars, trucks, and cargo for narcotics and other contraband.
  • $414.7 million to address humanitarian concerns at the border, including medical care, more efficient transportation, better holding facility conditions and services for migrants.
  • $112.6 million for aircraft and sensor systems, including $86 million for 3 additional multi-role enforcement aircraft.
  • $14.5 million for coastal interceptor vessels to patrol our maritime borders.
  • $76.9 million for countering opioids with detection equipment and staffing at international mail facilities.
  • The agreement includes $1.375 billion for approximately 55 miles of pedestrian and levee fencing in the Rio Grande Valley.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement: The agreement provides $7.587 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws while streamlining and facilitating the legal immigration process. These funds will also support investigations into human trafficking and smuggling, as well as efforts to prevent child sex tourism through funding for International Meagan’s Law. The agreement also includes $44 million to counter the trafficking of opioids.

Transportation Security Administration: $8.090 billion

Coast Guard: $12.016 billion

United States Secret Service: $2.248 billion

Cybersecurity: $1.037 billion for cybersecurity operations and readiness

FEMA Federal Assistance: $3.344 billion for grants and training to State, Local, Tribal, and Territorial entities

Disaster Relief: $12.558 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund