Border security compromise with “Montana priorities” set for vote in Senate, House

A measure to fund a portion of barrier along the U.S. Southern border and avoid another government shutdown was formally announced in the Senate on Thursday and is expected to pass after a vote later today.

The House plans to vote on the measure tonight.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, who helped craft the measure with a small group of lawmakers, said the legislation includes a number of key priorities.

Among them, the agreement secures $546 million for technology to boost security at ports of entry. That’s where the vast majority of dangerous drugs enter the U.S., Tester said.

It also gives law enforcement the tools needed to secure the border between ports, including surveillance technology, watercraft and airframes. It funds 600 additional customs officers while providing $414 million for humanitarian concerns.

“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 said the bill also includes a number of security priorities for Montana, including the restoration of funding for the TSA at $46 million. It includes $90 million for Operation Stonegarden on the northern U.S. border, and $700 million for the Assistance to Firefighters and SAFER grant programs.

President Donald Trump has not indicated whether he will sign the bill if it passes Congress.

In addition, Tester said, the agreement provides $7.5 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,” Tester’s statement said. “The agreement also includes $44 million to counter the trafficking of opioids.”