Senator Rick Scott to roll out measure to ‘keep our border agents paid’ during possible government shutdown
EXCLUSIVE: Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., is rolling out a measure Friday to ensure that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are paid in the event of a government shutdown, Fox News Digital has learned.
The bill, titled the “Keep Our Border Agents Paid Act,” would make continuing appropriations for employees and contractors of CBP and ICE should Congress fail to reach an agreement on a continuing resolution and the government partially shut down after this weekend’s deadline — all while the border crisis continues “to rage out of control.
Congress has until late Saturday to pass a continuing resolution and avoid a government shutdown.
The bill would ensure that those employees and contractors are paid, and that they receive benefits and “compensation for disability or death” and “funeral expenses and transportation of bodies” during a government shutdown.
The employees who would be covered include those conducting Air and Marine operations and Field Operations for CBP; employees of U.S. Border Patrol; Homeland Security Investigations of ICE; those conducting enforcement and removal operations for ICE; and contractors providing support to those agents and employees.
“I have been to the southern border three times since President Biden took office, and the crisis is worse each time I visit,” Scott told Fox News Digital. “Failed leadership created this crisis, and we cannot allow the border to go unchecked, and our border patrol agents to go unpaid, due to a failure of Washington to fund government.”
Scott is also a cosponsor of the Pay Our Military Act and the Pay Our Coast Guard Act to ensure that the military and Coast Guard are paid as well in the event of a government shutdown. Senate Democrats blocked both efforts.
The bill is cosponsored by Republican Sens. Jim Risch of Idaho, Tim Scott of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Dan Sullivan of Arkansas and Roger Wicker of Mississippi, and it has been endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council.
“Our Border Patrol agents bear the full weight of President Biden’s open border policy, met with an onslaught of illegal immigrants every day. Now more than ever, we need our agents to keep our nation safe,” Sen. Tim Scott told Fox News Digital. “The least we can do is ensure these brave men and women are paid for their invaluable work and continued sacrifice.”
Risch added that it is critical to ensure that “our essential border patrol agents continue to receive pay and benefits regardless of a government shutdown.”
“Border Patrol agents are some of the most patriotic people in this country. We love our nation, and we love our fellow citizens, and if we have to, we will work without pay,” National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd told Fox News Digital. “However, thanks to Senator Scott’s bill, we might not have to worry about protecting our borders while also worrying about keeping food on the table for our families.”
He added: “We appreciate Senator Scott’s willingness to look out for the well-being of all brave agents on the frontlines, and we encourage Congress to quickly pass his bill into law.”
The bill and the looming government shutdown come as migrant numbers have surged after a brief lull in the early summer. Numbers rocketed in July and August with more than 230,000 encounters at the border, marking the highest August number on record.
Those numbers look set to be even higher in September, with scenes this month of thousands of mostly single adult Venezuelan male migrants flooding into Eagle Pass, Texas. The crisis caused border authorities to shut down bridges and surge resources to the area in an effort to cope.
CBP sources told Fox News on Monday that there were approximately 11,000 migrant encounters at the southern border, exceeding the record highs seen in the days before the Title 42 public health order ended in May and making it the single highest day in recent memory.
In Eagle Pass alone, there were more than 4,000 encounters last weekend.
This fiscal year, Border Patrol agents have seized enough fentanyl to kill the entire U.S. population.
Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens announced that agents have seized over 2,700 lbs of fentanyl as part of the more than 69,000 pounds of narcotics seized between ports of entry. The seizures include 40,000 pounds of marijuana, 13,000 pounds of methamphetamine and 11,000 pounds of cocaine.
This amount of fentanyl, which does not include the amount seized at ports of entry, is more than enough lethal doses to kill the entire population of the United States. While significantly more is intercepted at ports of entry — with over 22,000 pounds caught at the ports of entry at the southern border this fiscal year — the figure highlights the danger of fentanyl moving between the ports and potentially past overwhelmed agents in the field.