Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona's only Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, today released a statement in response to the Senate heeding her call to come back into session and pass a critical border security package. They approved H.R. 6080 by unanimous consent this morning.
Rep. Kirkpatrick been working hard to push through measures to expand the U.S. Border Patrol and put more resources into action along the border. The passage of this bill comes after an extended legislative battle in which she has championed fast action to strengthen security -- including successfully advocating for both the House and the Senate to come back to work to move this legislation forward as quickly as possible. It is now headed to the President's desk, where he is expected to sign it soon.
The Congresswoman issued the following statement:
"Today's vote was a victory for our border communities, and one that was a long time coming. We have fought every step of the way for weeks to end the political games and make Washington take action to secure our borders. Thanks to our efforts, we will soon see more Border Patrol agents on duty, more drones in the skies and more criminal illegal immigrants being deported from this country. This bill will make a real difference for public safety.
"But Congress needs to be aware that their work is not nearly done. I will keep saying it until they hear me -- while this is a valuable first step towards protecting folks in the Southwest, it will take much more to make up for years of failed policies along the border. The federal government must continue committing more manpower and resources to keep Arizonans safe -- we need to finish the job we have now started.
"Unfortunately, the drawn-out legislative back-and-forth over this bill has shown that Washington still doesn't truly understand the threats we face. Congress repeatedly let political maneuvering get in the way of putting more boots on the ground as soon as possible -- this process just should not have been as difficult as it was. While we were able to put a stop to the delays this time, we are going to have to keep fighting to make sure Members know that border security is national security, and their responsibility to the people has to come first. We all need to come together in these hyper-partisan times to do what is right for Arizona and America."
Last Thursday, the Senate passed a bill including critical steps Rep. Kirkpatrick has been working for to help secure the border -- after a legislative battle sparked by their stripping security funding from the Supplemental Appropriations Act. The Congresswoman called on the House last week to commit to not ending the special session without passing the legislation, and Members responded to her push by making it one of two bills on the agenda and passing it Tuesday morning.
Due to procedural mistakes that rendered the Senate bill unconstitutional, it needed to be re-introduced to be considered by the House, and could not be sent for the President's signature until the Senate voted for it again. Rep. Kirkpatrick called on them to return to work and get the job done shortly after the House vote, and they did so today -- passing the bill by unanimous consent.
Among other measures, the bill Rep. Kirkpatrick helped move will allow for 1,000 new U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) agents, 250 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) personnel and 250 new Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers; help strengthen operations for CBP, ICE, the FBI, the U.S. Marshals Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; support efforts to detain criminal illegal immigrants in the federal prison system; send much-needed communication equipment to border security personnel; make it possible to deploy unmanned aerial systems ("drones"); set up forward operating bases for the Border Patrol; make critical improvements to help U.S. attorneys and the courts handle border-related crime; and bolster anti-corruption efforts. It is fully paid for. These should be important additions to our border security efforts, though they do not go as far as H.R. 5875, a $701 million package the Congresswoman championed.
In recent weeks, Rep. Kirkpatrick has stepped up her fight to secure funding to expand the USBP and deploy additional security personnel and resources to the border. After the Senate cut the support for security from the Supplemental Appropriations Act and the House failed to restore it despite her advocacy, the Congresswoman helped push H.R. 5875 through the House on July 28. She then sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) specifically demanding they not adjourn for the August district working period before passing this bill -- which the Senate could not manage to do.
The original measure was written into the Supplemental Appropriations Act after months of pressure from the Congresswoman and many other Arizonans who have been calling for the Border Patrol to be expanded. In May, Rep. Kirkpatrick introduced the Southern Border Security Act requiring 3,500 new USBP agents to be hired, trained and deployed at the U.S.-Mexican border by the end of next year.