“The hypocrisy is stunning” Tester Takes to Senate Floor to Call Out Politicians Blocking Bipartisan Border Security Bill

Senator: “The hypocrisy is stunning. Senators and House members who went back to their home states and talked about how bad the southern border was and how we needed to act now have flip-flopped”;

“Montanans are tired of D.C. political games. And quite frankly, so am I”

As part of his continued efforts to defend Montana and keep our country safe, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today took to the Senate floor to call out D.C. politicians who shamefully blocked bipartisan legislation to secure our southern border for political purposes. Key excerpts from the Senator’s floor speech are below.

Tester on what he hears from Montanans back home who want a secure border:

When I go home to Montana, I hear it from everybody. I hear it from families, from business owners, from policemen to mayors. You name it in Montana. And I don’t think Montana is different from any other state – this is a big issue. People understand the southern border is broken and they want us, the folks that serve in Washington DC, their representatives in the government, to do something about it.”

Tester on political hypocrisy from those who blocked the bipartisan border security bill:

“Now, over the last many years, multiple administrations, we’ve seen people go to the border and talk about how things are really bad down there, and they’re bad because we’ve got undocumented folks coming across the border in record numbers. They’re bad because we’ve got fentanyl coming into this country that’s killing people and ruining families. And then they come back and they go around the country talking about how miserably bad it is on the southern border and how it needs to be fixed. They’re right. Unfortunately, this shouldn’t be about press releases and emails and newsletters and interviews at night. This should be about getting something done to fix the problem.

“The interesting thing is before the bill was even rolled out, some of the folks that serve in this body said ‘I oppose it’ before they even had a chance to look at it. They said ‘I oppose it’ because they were told to oppose the bill… It’s unbelievable to me. And I’ve seen a lot of hypocrisy in this place, but it is unbelievable to me the hypocrisy in that vote as a condition of national security. And folks in this body turn their back on fixing the problem. Why? Because they want to keep it a political issue, which is exactly why the people look at Washington D.C. and say you know what, those folks don’t represent us. They’re in it for themselves. They just want everything to be in upheaval. It confirms that thought.”

Tester on what’s actually in the bill and the strong support it has received from law enforcement:

“So, what’s the bill do? What does this compromise bill do for America? It funds $20 billion in security for the southern border, for manpower, for technology and to attack the fentanyl crisis, which is a scourge on this country. It includes the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which puts serious harm to China’s wallet for putting the precursor elements of fentanyl into Mexico. It changes the asylum laws. It raises the bar exponentially and stops folks who come to the border illegally from gaming the system. It requires the president to shut down the border when they can’t handle the people.

“Look, don’t take my word for it. The National Border Patrol Council, [which represents] some 18,000 border patrol agents, have endorsed this bill. These are the folks that are charged by the way with keeping our border safe. The Acting Director of Customs and Border Protection endorsed this bill and said it ‘would provide the strongest set of tools that we’ve had in decades.’ The chief of the US Border Patrol said on Fox News, and I quote, ‘This bill that would have added additional hundreds of border patrol agents to our rank and file, that would have given us more technology, would have given us more equipment, infrastructure, of course I’m gonna be supportive of that.’ And one of the senators that negotiated this bill, a strong conservative I might add, Republican Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma said that this would have stopped 800,000 entries in the past four months if it had already been signed into law.”

Tester on disinformation being spread about the bill:

“The hypocrisy is stunning. Senators and House members who went back to their home states and talked about how bad the southern border was and how we needed to act now have flip-flopped. These are politicians who claim to work bipartisanly but they opposed bipartisan solutions. The same ones that have cried loudly for years, ‘we need changes, policy changes on the border.’ But they’re revealing in plain sight that it isn’t about policy issues. It’s about politics. And the disinformation campaign that’s come along with this is rich. Claims that 5,000 migrants would be allowed into this country every day is patently false. And if they’d have read the bill, they’d have known it. There’s those that say that Congressional action isn’t needed – that also is false. We control the purse strings, we control the policy language, and only Congress can fix our asylum laws. Only Congress can make sure we’re giving Border Patrol the resources that they need to secure the border.”

Tester concluded his remarks by calling on Congress to act to make sure America maintains our position as the greatest country in the world:

“This is the greatest country in the world, not by accident but because our forefathers acted responsibly, and we didn’t have campaign seasons that never end so that we actually could sit down and negotiate, not as Democrats and Republicans, but as Americans, to do what’s right for this country.

“When Congress doesn’t do their job, when Congress doesn’t even debate a bill to deal with a serious problem in this country, it does not speak well of us. It only empowers our opponents out there, the countries that want to replace us in the world. I don’t know what will transpire with this negotiated border agreement. But I do hope that we get another opportunity to vote on it.

“The American people deserve to hear a debate on this bill and find out not what Facebook or Twitter or what the internet says about this bill. But find out exactly what’s in this bill because I can tell you, Montanans are tired of D.C. political games. And quite frankly, so am I.”

Earlier this week Tester voted to secure the southern border – but politicians in Congress blocked the bipartisan border security legislation. Here’s what Republican leaders and law enforcement are saying about the bill:

  • The National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), which represents approximately 18,000 Border Patrol agents and personnel charged with enforcing our country’s border security policies, stated in part: “The Border Act of 2024 will codify into law authorities that U.S. Border Patrol agents never had in the past. This will allow us to remove single adults expeditiously and without a lengthy judicial review, which historically has required the release of these individuals into the interior of the U.S. This alone will drop illegal border crossings nationwide and will allow a great many of our agents to get back to detecting and apprehending those who want to cross our borders illegally and evade apprehension. While not perfect, the Border Act of 2024 is a step in the right direction and is far better than the status quo, which is why the National Border Patrol Council endorses the bill and hopes for a quick passage.”
  • The Director of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stated in part: “This proposed legislation would provide the strongest set of tools we have had in decades to effectively manage migration and enhance our nation’s border security.”
  • Conservative Senator James Lankford (R-OK) who helped negotiate the proposal stated that the bill would have stopped 800,000 entries in the past four months if it had already been signed into law.
  • Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell admittedly publicly that his own party has played politics with securing the border, stating: “I followed the instructions of my conference, who were insisting that we tackle this in October. I mean, it’s actually our side that wanted to tackle the border issue. We started it,” McConnell said, adding that“things have changed over the last four months.” 

In December, Tester pressed Senate leadership to prioritize these border security negotiations and tackle our broken immigration system. In a recent statewide and national op-ed, Tester called for the Senate to get the bill on the floor for debate.

Read a memo outlining the facts about the bipartisan border security proposal HERE.