Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) The U.S. Senate fell short of the votes needed to pass a bipartisan border bill on Wednesday, with Sen. Jon Tester voting in favor of the measure and Sen. Steve Daines in opposition.

The measure, which also included foreign aid to Israel and Ukraine, left authors of the bill asking how Republicans could sink legislation their leadership had negotiated and signed off on earlier this week.

Tester joined 49 others in the Senate in voting for the measure. Among other things, Tester said the bill would both secure the border and help tackle the fentanyl crisis.

“This bipartisan proposal would have given our men and women in law enforcement the resources and policy changes they have told me they need to get the job done – that’s why it received the strong endorsement of the National Border Patrol Council and the head of Customs and Border Protection,” Tester said in a statement.

Four Republicans also voted for the measure, though it wasn't enough to generate the 60 votes needed to pass the bill. Former President Donald Trump had urged Republicans to oppose the measure in hopes of having an issue to campaign on.

Supporters of the bill, including several Republicans, accused the GOP of playing politics with national security and border protection. They initially supported the measure but backed out after Trump directed them to vote in opposition.

“It's shameful that politicians in Washington have once again chosen to play politics with our border and put our national security at risk,” Tester said. “Montanans are fed up with these political games and want to see our southern border secured now – and so do I.”

Daines in recent years has demanded stronger border policies and, in September, he cosponsored a bill to tighten asylum standards, criminalize visa overstays and increase the number of Border Patrol agents, among other things.

At the time he said, “I'm working with my colleagues to do everything we can to stem the flow of deadly drugs and crime into our country.” However, Daines joined a majority of Republicans in opposing the bipartisan bill on Wednesday.

Instead, he blamed Democrats for conditions on the border.

“President Biden and the Senate Democrats don't really want to solve the problem. They want to solve their political problem. It's a huge liability for them politically,” Daines told Fox News on Wednesday. “If they want to solve the problem, President Biden can do that. Senate Democrats can tell President Biden to use the same exact tools President Trump used and we could secure the border again. It's that a simple. President Biden doesn't want to actually see an outcome. He wants a political outcome, not a secure border.”

Biden voiced support for the bill and urged Congress to pass it, saying it was the strongest border bill crafted by Congress in nearly 30 years.

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