(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are introducing bipartisan legislation to reform the antiquated Border Patrol Agent pay system and save up to $1 billion over 10 years.
The Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act of 2013 will provide more reliable pay and work schedules for Border Patrol Agents.
“A common-sense pay schedule that provides stability for Agents and their families is something I hear about every time I visit the border,” said Tester, whose state shares a 545-mile border with Canada. “Establishing this new pay schedule will make our borders more secure and save taxpayer dollars. This much-needed bill is the product of folks working together to find common ground, and I look forward to seeing it become law.”
“Spending cuts due to sequestration, coupled with an archaic and inefficient pay scale, put at risk the safety of Border Patrol Agents and threaten to reverse much of the progress these agents have made along the border over the last few years,” said McCain. “This legislation stabilizes and restructures the border patrol pay scale, allowing agents to put in the hours needed to secure the border while saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year.”
Tester and McCain’s legislation, which allows Border Patrol Agents to choose between three pay schedule options and work either 100 hours (20 hours of overtime), 90 hours (10 hours of overtime), or 80 hours (no overtime) per pay period, is supported by the National Border Patrol Council.
“Americans ask Border Patrol agents to put our lives in danger to keep this country safe, and we do so willingly,” said Brandon Judd of the National Border Patrol Council. “Thanks to Senators Tester and McCain, this legislation will ensure that Americans have a Border Patrol that is properly trained, adequately equipped, and fairly compensated.”
The Border Patrol, an arm of the Homeland Security Department’s Customs and Border Protection, employs more than 21,000 Border Patrol Agents. The agents’ current pay system was established more than 40 years ago.
Tester and McCain’s legislation comes in the wake of a recent government report that shows that Homeland Security employees for years have abused a fund meant to compensate workers who must sometimes stay on duty beyond normal business hours, such as law enforcement officers who must respond to criminal activity. It is estimated that the practice is costing taxpayers millions of dollars.
Tester, Chairman of the Homeland Security Subcommittee that oversees the federal workforce, plans to hold a hearing to examine the overtime abuse issue in his subcommittee on December 10. Earlier this month, Tester demanded that Acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers provide an explanation for the department’s failure to rein in overtime abuses.
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has introduced identical legislation in the House of Representatives.