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Tester Demands Congress Fully Fund Fentanyl Scanners

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is calling on Congress to fully fund technology used to scan for fentanyl and other contraband at the southern border as part of the Fiscal Year 2023 Homeland Security Appropriations bill ahead of the March 22nd deadline. Tester’s urgent request comes directly after Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller told NBC News this week that scanners used to spot smuggled fentanyl at the southern border are currently sitting unused in warehouses because Congress failed to provide the cash needed to install them after politicians blocked the bipartisan border security bill.

In a letter to senior congressional appropriators, Tester said that technology to stop fentanyl at the southern border isn’t worth its weight until Congress provides the funding needed to get it deployed and operational: “Non-Intrusive Inspection technology and scanners are critical to securing our border and combating the fentanyl crisis. These scanners allow Customs and Border Protection agents to scan vehicles and cargo in order to detect fentanyl and other dangerous contraband that criminals are trying to smuggle into our country. However, according to CBP Commissioner Troy Miller, many of these scanners are currently sitting in warehouses unused because Senator Mitch McConnell and politicians in Washington blocked bipartisan border security legislation that would have appropriated funds to install them. This technology isn’t worth its weight until Congress quits the political games and provides the funding needed to get it deployed and operational in the field.”

Tester also drew attention to recent reports that ICE is facing a budget shortfall and called on Congress to fully fund law enforcement agencies to keep our country safe: “The news about the uninstalled scanners comes on the heels of reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement is considering mass releases of migrants because of budget shortfalls. Let’s be clear, Congress had a solution to address both of these issues — the bipartisan border security deal. However, some of our colleagues choose to score cheap political points instead of passing the strongest border security bill in decades. It is now up to you all to provide CBP, ICE, and Border Patrol with the funding they need to secure the southern border through the appropriations process.”

Tester concluded his letter with an urgent plea to appropriators to help keep Montana and our nation safe: “Every day that this funding is delayed and this technology sits unused is a win for the cartels and makes Montana and our country less safe.”

Tester has long pushed for additional technology to secure the border. Last year, he sent a letter urging President Biden to increase investments in technology to stop drug trafficking. As the only member of the Montana delegation to support the 2023 government funding bill, Tester helped secure critical investments in border security technology. Last year’s funding bill included $230 million for CBP border security technologies, including $70 million for NII systems to improve scanning of vehicles and cargo entering the U.S.

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