Dem Senator Launches Ad Pitching Himself As Tough On Border — Despite Repeatedly Voting Down Security Measures

A new campaign ad argues that Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana has cracked down on border security amid his contentious reelection bid, despite him having a history of voting down several security measures.

Tester launched an ad last week claiming to have fought alongside Republicans for shutting down the border, targeting fentanyl traffickers, adding Border Patrol Agents and supporting the “Remain in Mexico” policy. However, the senator has repeatedly opposed GOP-led measures aimed at strengthening border security.

“When Montanans see a problem, we get to work,” the ad narrates. “Jon Tester knows defending Montana starts with securing the border.”

Tester voted against an amendment to the Fiscal Responsibility Act in 2023 that resembled portions of H.R. 2, the House-passed Secure the Border Act. The provision, proposed by Republican Kansas Sen. Roger Marshall, would’ve resumed construction of the border wall, added thousands more Border Patrol Agents, reinstated the “Remain in Mexico” policy and defined “Operational Control” as preventing all entries of narcotics and other contraband.

Tester also opposed GOP South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s amendment to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in 2022 that would’ve provided $500 million to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to “to acquire, deploy, operate, and maintain nonintrusive inspection capabilities, including chemical screening devices, to identify, in an operational environment, synthetic opioids and other narcotics at purity levels that are not more than 10 percent.”

The same year, Tester voted against a provision proposed by Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida that would’ve paused hiring Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents until at least 18,000 Border Patrol Agents were brought on.

Tester has also opposed various other related measures, including several votes against border barriers.

The Democrat opposed Republican South Dakota Sen. John Thune’s amendment to the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act in 2013 that would’ve “require[d] the completion of the 350 miles of reinforced, double-layered fencing.”

In 2018, the senator voted down GOP Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s amendment to appropriate $25 billion to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for establishing a Border Security Enforcement Fund, which would be used to construct a barrier, among other purposes.

Tester also opposed providing funding for a border wall in 2021 and 2022 by voting against amendments proposed by Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Dan Sullivan of Arkansas, respectively.

“I’m Jon Tester and I approve this message to do whatever it takes to keep Montanans safe,” the senator can be heard saying in the ad.

The campaign also ad argues that “he fought to stop President [Joe] Biden from letting migrants stay in America, instead of remain in Mexico.” Tester opposed an amendment proposed by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida in 2021 that could’ve implemented “Migrant Protection Protocols” — former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

Additionally, the senator voted down GOP provisions for the continuation of Title 42, another Trump-era policy to expel migrants, in 2021 and 2022. Tester eventually joined in with other vulnerable Senate Democrats in May 2023 emphasizing support for extending the expulsion authority for two more years once it had lapsed.

More recently, Tester voted with Democrats on March 23 to block an amendment proposed by GOP Sen. Ted Budd of North Carolina that was a “modified version” of the Laken Riley Act, named after the 22-year-old Georgia nursing studentwho was allegedly killed by an illegal alien in late February. The amendment would barred “illegal aliens who commit the crime of burglary, theft, or shoplifting from being granted legal status or citizenship.”

The senator joined with his colleagues the same day to prevent Republican Tennessee Sen. Bill Hagerty’s amendment to the consolidated appropriations bill, which would “prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to secretly fly illegal aliens from other nations directly into states across the country for resettlement.”

Former Navy SEAL Tim Sheehy, Tester’s Republican opponent, has recently ramped up attacks on the senator over his record on the issue as the election approaches, arguing that “Montanans will hold you accountable this November.”

Tester’s campaign told the Daily Caller News Foundation in a statement that the senator has “used his seat on the Senate Appropriations Committee to secure billions of dollars in funding for the border wall, border patrol personnel, and border security, and to target fentanyl trafficking at the border.”

“He will continue to fight to pass one of the toughest border security bills in decades and crack down on the fentanyl crisis,” the campaign said. “Meanwhile, Tim Sheehy opposes the bipartisan border security bill endorsed by border patrol agents, and repeatedly called to defund the agency in charge of securing the border.”

The campaign also pointed the DCNF toward recent reports of Tester pushing for border security and measures to combatfentanyl trafficking, as well as his continued support of the bipartisan border security bill. The legislation was met with heavy criticism from Republicans, like Sheehy, as well as some Border Patrol Agents, for allowing the illegal immigration crisis to persist.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), the Senate GOP campaign arm backing Sheehy’s bid, has also repeatedly hit Tester for changing his stances on illegal immigration.

“Border security is a top issue for Montana voters, and Jon Tester’s record shows he’s voted against securing the Southern border for years,” Maggie Abboud, spokeswoman NRSC, told the DCNF in a statement. “The flip flop flat top can’t lie his way out of this.”

A J.L. Partners survey released April 8 found that illegal immigration and border security was the second most important issue to likely voters in Montana. The same poll showed Sheehy leading Tester by three points, while 7% remain undecided.

Illegal immigration has surged under the Biden administration, leading the Republican-held House’s vote to impeach DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Feb. 13 for his handling of the crisis. The Democratic-controlled Senate swiftly killedthe articles of impeachment on Wednesday.

Border patrol has had 1 million encounters at the southern border in fiscal year 2024, including 137,480 in March, alone, according to CBP data. Border Patrol encountered nearly 2 million and 2.2 million illegal crossings in fiscal years 2023 and 2022, respectively.

Tester said during an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in May 2023 that Biden has “helped” secure the southern border.

Republished with permission from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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