Tester Objects to DHS ‘end run’ Around the Law to Drain Millions from Agencies Protecting Homeland

Senator warns agency against reprogramming, transfer of funds already appropriated & deliberated by Congress

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, today objected to a proposal by the Department of Homeland Security to drain $116 million from agencies that protect the homeland, including the TSA, Customs and Border Protection, and the Coast Guard, as well as $155 million from FEMA’s wildfire and hurricane disaster relief fund.

Tester sent a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan warning that the agency proposal directly defies laws Congress has already passed on a bipartisan basis and that were signed by President Trump-laws that appropriated the highest-ever funding for border security and immigration enforcement.

“I have grave concerns about DHS’s proposed end-run around laws passed by Congress that would drain millions from agencies tasked with protecting the homeland from security threats and natural disasters like hurricanes and wildfires-including CBP, TSA, FEMA and the Coast Guard,” Tester said. “Congress has already deliberated DHS’s request and appropriated the highest-ever funding for border security and immigration enforcement, which passed on a bipartisan basis and was signed by President Trump.”

Read the full text of Tester’s letter HERE.

“This administration’s disregard of Congress’s constitutional power of the purse is unacceptable,” Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “President Trump is so obsessed with his inhumane immigration policies that he chooses to take funds away from national security programs as well as disaster assistance just as the first hurricane is forming in the Caribbean. The administration should not be wasting taxpayer dollars on these ineffective policies.”

As Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, Tester is the top Senate Democrat responsible for funding the Department of Homeland Security-the primary agency responsible for border security.

Earlier this year, Tester led a small, bipartisan group of lawmakers tasked with crafting border security legislation to avert a government shutdown.

In March, Tester visited the southern border to get a firsthand look at the increasingly desperate situation there. He met with Customs and Border Protection officials, land owners, and agriculture producers to discuss the challenges they face and determine what resources are needed to secure the border in a smart, effective, and cost-efficient way.