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Government & Politics

Union Representing Border Agents Endorse Tester, Cite Strong Border Security Stand

Jackie Yamanaka/YPR

Editor’s note: Senator Jon Tester was asked during the press conference if he had met with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Tester had said he meeting was cancelled by the White House. A Tester spokeswoman called YPR Saturday to clarify that no meeting was actually scheduled and the schedulers were working on setting a date. “Jon misspoke. Our office and the White House were working on scheduling a meeting for the week of August 20, but the White House pushed that back.”

A White House official wrote in emails provided to YPR that schedulers said there were limited availabilies that week as Kavanaugh needed to meet with members of the Judiciary Committee before the hearings started (September 4, 2018) but the White House was looking at other dates and wrote,Just waiting on the green light from my higher ups as to when I can start booking meetings after the hearings...”

“Jon looks forward to meeting with Judge Kavanaugh and remains in contact with the White House to get a meeting on the books as soon as possible. Last week Jon reviewed a handful of documents related to Judge Kavanaugh’s record and he continues to vet him for this very important job,” said Marnee Banks, a spokesperson for Tester.

The president of the union that represents border patrol agents said while the organization more often endorses Republicans, today they were getting behind Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester’s bid for a third term.

The announcement came during a press conference in Billings.

Brandon Judd of Malta is stationed along the Northern U.S. border with Canada. He said the National Border Control Council's endorsements, including one for President Donald Trump, goes to those who support strong border security.

“The Republicans don’t own border security (as an issue),” said Judd. “There are Democrats that do support border security. There’s a lot more that run away from it unfortunately, but Senator Tester is not one who does that.”

Judd said Tester, the ranking member on the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, has a proven record that supports border agents, technology for border security, and cooperation between federal agents and local law enforcement.

More importantly, Judd said Tester can work with Republicans.

“You just can’t get things done in Washington if you’re not able to reach across the aisle,” said Judd who also cited that was a hallmark of the late Arizona Senator John McCain.

Tester faces a tough re-election bid this year. Republican Matt Rosendale and his supporters have been running television ads critical of Tester on border issues.

Judd was asked if Rosendale sought his union’s endorsement. “No,” said Judd.

On another issue, Tester hoped to meet with Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh before next week’s confirmation hearing.

Tester said he was supposed to meet with Kavanaugh last week but it was cancelled by the White House because the judge was to meet with some of the Judiciary Committee members.

“We will meet with Judge Kavanaugh,” said Tester.  “I’ve got a list of questions we’re going to talk to him about. Hopefully it will be before the hearing but if it’s after the hearing, so be it.”

That may be the case as Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin Tuesday morning, after the Labor Day holiday.

“Then we’ll watch the confirmation hearing when we get back after Labor Day,” he said. “See the questions that were asked there, see how he answers them and sometime shortly after that we’ll make a decision whether we’ll support or not.”

Montana’s Republican Senator Steve Daines supported Kavanaugh shortly after President Donald Trump made the nomination.

Tester’s Republican opponent had accused the farmer from Big Sandy for not meeting with Kavanaugh as a dig at the president, who is scheduled to campaign in Billings next Thursday on Rosendale’s behalf.

YPR will broadcast NPR’s “live” coverage of the Kavanaugh hearing starting September 4, 2018 at 7:30 a.m.