Daines, Tester approve DHS nominee and urge northern border awareness

Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines

Montana’s two U.S. senators this week voted to nominate Kirstjen Nielsen as the head of Homeland Security and pledged to work closely with her to improve national security.

In their confirmation, both senators encouraged Nielsen to make better use of emerging technology and not forget security needs along the northern border as she settles into the new post.

“I will be working closely with Secretary Nielsen and the Trump administration to strengthen our national security and keep out anyone who wants to harm our country,” said Sen. Jon Tester.

Tester in October announced legislation to add more agents to both the northern and southern border and apply new technology to improve national security.

As a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Tester has panned President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a $1.6 billion wall along the southern border, saying there are smarter and more cost-effective ways to address security.

Tester said he secured a commitment from Nielsen that under her leadership, the Department of Homeland Security would not advocate for an “ineffective and costly coast-to-coast southern border wall.”

Rather, Tester said, Nielsen would work with Congress to secure the border utilizing new technology.

“We must secure our borders using the best technology possible, we must make airport security fail-safe, and we must stay far ahead of all cyber threats that put Montana and our nation at risk,” Tester said.

Daines also lauded Nielsen’s appointment to the post, saying she understands the “increasing threats” facing the nation. He too has pressed DHS to pay greater attention to the northern border.

“While security efforts along the southern border are of critical importance, we cannot not lose sight of our northern border,” he said. “Canada is a close friend and ally, however, we must ensure our shared border does not become an opportunity for those who would do us harm.”

With Nielsen’s confirmation settled, Daines said “she can now focus on taking swift action to protect our national security, including securing our border and strengthening our cybersecurity.”