Hickenlooper, Capito Bill Would Create the Office of Policy Development and Cybersecurity

Source: United States Senator for Colorado John Hickenlooper

Hickenlooper, Capito Bill Would Create the Office of Policy Development and Cybersecurity

NTIA Policy and Cybersecurity Coordination Act would redesignate the Office as well as outline responsibilities of an Associate Administrator

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Shelley Moore Capito introduced the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Policy and Cybersecurity Coordination Act, a bipartisan bill to refocus the NTIA’s Office for Policy Analysis and Development on cybersecurity. The office would be renamed the Office for Policy Development and Cybersecurity to better align with the office’s 21st century mission of helping secure the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

In recent years the NTIA has increasingly adapted to better reflect the rising importance of cybersecurity to our critical infrastructure and daily functions. Hickenlooper and Capito’s bill would codify, strengthen and provide Congressional guidance to NTIA’s ongoing cybersecurity activities   

“Cybersecurity is essential to our national security, and so is updating our agencies and departments to reflect our new reality,” said Hickenlooper. 

“American consumers are the ones who are hurt most by cyberattacks and breaches of private data,” Capito said. “As technology and the telecommunications industry continues to advance, unfortunately, so do the threats from hackers and bad actors. This bipartisan legislation takes necessary, proactive steps to develop cybersecurity guidance, identify potential vulnerabilities, and promote collaboration between the public and private sectors, all with the ultimate goal of protecting consumers.”

“On behalf of NTCA, and our nearly 850 community based broadband providers, I congratulate and thank Senators John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) for introducing the NTIA Policy and Cybersecurity Development Act. In addition to important cybersecurity collaboration and mitigation provisions, this legislation is intended to develop guidance and support for internet and telecommunications companies – specifically providing assistance to small and rural providers. Cyberthreats are unfortunately a way of life in the internet age, making it all the more important that critical infrastructure providers have guidance and tools available to help mitigate these risks. This is why NTCA developed its CyberShare initiative to help with such efforts, offering a cyber threat information sharing and dissemination platform for smaller broadband operators.  We look forward therefore to engaging further with Senators Hickenlooper and Capito as this legislation moves forward,” said Shirley Bloomfield, CEO, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association

“Ensuring a strong public-private partnership for promoting digital security is becoming increasingly vital as American critical infrastructure faces an expanding cyber threat landscape. We welcome Senators Hickenlooper and Capito’s bipartisan approach to giving clear congressional direction for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s important role in supporting cybersecurity best practices in the internet and telecommunications industries,” said Arthur Sidney, vice president of public policy, Computer and Communications Industry Association (CCIA).

“I thank Senators Hickenlooper and Capito for introducing the NTIA Policy and Cybersecurity Development Act, which will provide important guidance and support for internet and telecommunications companies implementing cybersecurity and privacy best practices.  This legislation provides resources for tailored technical assistance from the federal government to manage cybersecurity risks and best practices, and specifically engages with small and rural carriers to further strengthen America’s critical infrastructure.  I thank the Senators for their focus on this important issue and look forward to continued work to help ensure competitive carriers have every tool available to protect their networks and customers,”Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) President & CEO Steven K. Berry

In the House a companion bill has been introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA), and Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) .

Full text of the bill is available HERE.

The redesignated office would be led by an Associate Administrator and be responsible for:

  • Developing cybersecurity policy as it relates to telecommunications, the internet, consumer software services, and public media;
  • Creating guidance and support for implementing cybersecurity and privacy measures for internet and telecommunication companies;
  • Promoting collaboration between security research and industry;
  • Preventing and mitigating future software vulnerabilities in communications networks;
  • Removing barriers for implementing, understanding, and investing in cybersecurity for communications and software providers; and
  • Providing technical assistance on cybersecurity practices to small and rural communications service providers.

Give Consumers a Choice With Their Data

Source: United States Senator for South Dakota John Thune

Washington Examiner
For years now, the public has been rightfully concerned about the influence and power of Big Tech corporations and the potentially damaging effect they have on individuals’ online experiences. That is why I have authored two bipartisan bills, the Filter Bubble Transparency Act and the Platform Accountability and Consumer Transparency Act, that would provide for common-sense and much-needed Big Tech regulation. In light of recent revelations by a Big Tech whistleblower, which I heard firsthand, these bills must be enacted without delay.
Big Tech platforms use consumers’ data in secretive ways through the use of algorithms to manipulate users’ online experiences. They also use this data to find new ways to keep billions of people engaged on their platforms. This leads to mounting concerns about harmful biases, whether data is being handled responsibly, and the troubling real-world impacts these platforms appear to have on some users, particularly young people. 
Little is known about how these companies use algorithms to amplify or suppress content or how they can affect users without their knowledge. For years, tech companies have been less than forthcoming about their practices. These algorithms are largely a black box to consumers, lawmakers, and regulators.
Because of the Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who testified on October 5 before a Senate Commerce subcommittee on which I serve, we now have more insight into Facebook’s algorithms and its troubling practices with regard to how it amplifies or suppresses content. Worse yet, it appears Facebook often ignored internal warnings about harmful effects, and for that, there should be serious accountability.
Big Tech platforms are certainly free to deploy algorithms that select content based on what will keep each user engaged. But the platforms should not be free to keep their users unaware of the fact that an algorithm is controlling which content each consumer sees on the platform. With some rare exceptions, people aren’t given a choice to easily opt out of a black-box algorithm that secretly selects the content they see.
We’re learning more and more about what the problem is, and I have several solutions. I’ve introduced the bipartisan Filter Bubble Transparency Act, which would give consumers the privacy, choice, and transparency that has been absent on these platforms for too long. 
Specifically, large-scale internet platforms would be required to notify users that their platform uses secret algorithms to select the content they see, what’s often described as the “filter bubble.” In addition, users would be given the choice to switch to a different version of the platform that is filter bubble-free.
The Federal Trade Commission would enforce these two simple requirements, and it would be authorized to seek civil penalties for those who knowingly violate them.
At the very least, users should have the option to engage on these platforms without being manipulated by secret algorithms.
There’s also a growing bipartisan consensus that we need to shed a greater light on the secretive content moderation processes social media companies use. That’s why I’ve introduced the bipartisan PACT Act, which would require internet platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to make biannual reports outlining material they’ve removed from their sites or chosen to deemphasize available to the public — and not just in intentionally complicated, hard-to-understand legalese. Sites would be required to provide an easily digestible disclosure of their content-moderation practices.
Tech companies would have to give each user due process protections by explaining their decisions when they remove material from being seen by consumers. If the user whose content was taken down disagreed with the platform’s decision, the user would be entitled to an appeals process as well.
No more censoring stories without explanation or deplatforming people based on their political beliefs. 
The people deserve to know much more about how Big Tech companies are handling their data and controlling the online experience. Big Tech has operated in the dark for too long. It’s long past time that Congress enacts meaningful, bipartisan Big Tech regulation by passing the Filter Bubble Transparency Act and the PACT Act.

Senators Hassan, Shaheen Cosponsor Legislation to Crack Down on Puppy Mills & Expand Protections for Dogs

Source: United States Senator for New Hampshire Maggie Hassan

October 10, 2021

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen cosponsored legislation to help crack down on puppy mills by creating stronger standards for veterinary care, housing, and breeding for dogs. The Puppy Protection Act would ensure that dogs within breeders’ care have suitable and safe enclosures, access to outdoor areas, and regularly interact with other dogs and humans.

“It is heartbreaking to see the conditions that puppies and dogs are subjected to in puppy mills and similar environments,” Senator Hassan said. “This important legislation would help ensure that dogs and puppies who are in a breeder’s care are properly cared for and can lead happy and healthy lives. I urge my colleagues to join us in taking long overdue action to strengthen protections for puppies.”

“Every effort must be made to ensure that dogs raised by breeders are kept in safe, sanitary and humane conditions,” said Senator Shaheen. “I was proud to help introduce the Puppy Protection Act, legislation that would prevent breeders from keeping dogs in squalid, negligent facilities and strengthen veterinary care, breeding and housing standards for dogs.”

Specifically, the bill would do the following:

  • Caging and space requirements: Expand enclosure requirements to allow dogs to stand on their hind legs without touching the top of their enclosure and increase the number of square feet of their enclosure based on the dog’s size. Enclosures may not be stacked on top of one another.
  • Exercise: Offer dogs over the age of 12 weeks unrestricted access from their primary enclosures to a ground-level, enclosed outdoor exercise area.
  • Socialization: Set a 30-minute requirement per day for dogs to socialize with humans and compatible dogs outside of the time spent in veterinary care.
  • Breeding: Require a screening by a veterinarian prior to each attempt to breed and prohibit breeding of two litters in any 18-month period or more than six litters in a dog’s lifetime. Breeders must also find a humane placement for retired breeding dogs, such as with adoptive families or rescue organizations.

Senators Hassan and Shaheen previously cosponsored historic bipartisan legislation that is now law that bans individuals from intentionally crushing, burning, drowning, suffocating, impaling or otherwise causing serious bodily injury to animals.

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Boozman, Marshall and Colleagues Question Attorney General Garland’s Call to Investigate Concerned Parents

Source: United States Senator for Arkansas – John Boozman

WASHINGTON–U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR) joined Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) and their colleagues seeking clarification from Attorney General Merrick Garland regarding his recent memorandum laying out the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) intention to investigate threats of violence, harassment and intimidation against school board members. The DOJ memo raises serious concerns about parents’ ability to voice criticism of education policies and hold leaders responsible for them accountable. 

“While we agree with the sentiment that there is absolutely no environment in which it is acceptable that school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff would be subject to real threats of violence, we believe any threat that constitutes a clear and imminent threat of intended violence should be investigated and prosecuted by local law enforcement officers. We also believe parents have the right to voice their concerns, opinions, and frustrations to public servants,” wrote the senators.

“It is not the job of the federal government to institute a witch hunt against parents effectively penalizing them by investigating dissent,” the senators continued.

The letter was also signed by Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), James Lankford (R-OK), John Barrasso (R-WY), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Deb Fischer (R-NE). 

Text of the letter can be viewed here or below.

October 8, 2021

 

The Honorable Merrick Garland

Attorney General

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20530

 

Dear Attorney General Garland,

 

We’ve seen all too often this administration, including the Department of Justice (DOJ), attack the constitutional rights that make America great, all in the name of “security” or “public health.” As an experienced federal prosecutor and former Circuit Court Judge, you are a scholar of the law. As such, you are well aware that our founders believed that some rights were so core to humanity that no government had the ability to take those rights away. Thankfully, they also had the foresight to enshrine several of those unalienable rights in our Constitution. Chief among those being the freedom of speech – the right to speak one’s mind.

Your recent Memorandum dated October 4, is an alarming attack on this most important Constitutional right. While we agree with the sentiment that there is absolutely no environment in which it is acceptable that school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff would be subject to real threats of violence, we believe any threat that constitutes a clear and imminent threat of intended violence should be investigated and prosecuted by local law enforcement officers.

We also believe parents have the right to voice their concerns, opinions, and frustrations to public servants. Parents often vehemently protect their children and have the absolute right to dissent when they believe their own children’s wellbeing is threatened. It is not the job of the federal government to institute a witch hunt against parents effectively penalizing them by investigating dissent. There are clear parameters for when the federal government can get involved. It’s difficult to imagine when the average parent’s speech would become a federally prosecutable crime and it’s preposterous to even gesture investigating parents’ speech under the guise of the Patriot Act, a law used to deter and punish terrorists. Wasting federal resources investigating constitutionally protected speech simply to discourage people from that speech is as egregious as barring free speech.

We request clarification of your Memorandum dated October 4 and answers to the following questions by October 25, 2021:

  1. It is our understanding that solicitation to commit a crime of violence under federal law must involve a clear and imminent threat of violence that would be a violation of another federal law. What federal law or laws do you believe are being violated for which a parent’s speech could trigger an actual prosecution by your Department?
  2. In your Memorandum, you acknowledge that “spirited debate about policy matters is protected under our Constitution” Can you provide specific examples of speech that is not constitutionally protected that you have the authority to prosecute under federal law?
  3. What is your definition of harassment and intimidation, and is such actionable under federal law?
  4. On September 29, you received a letter, Federal Assistance to Stop Threats and Acts of Violence Against Public Schoolchildren, Public School Board Members, and Other Public School District Officials and Educators, from the National School Boards Association – did they influence or help compose your Memorandum in any way, shape, or form?
  5. The DOJ already has scarce law enforcement resources. Is there a line item in the DOJs FY22 budget request intended to facilitate these sorts of extraordinary law enforcement measures?
  6. During your confirmation hearing, you said that an “attack on a government property at night” was not a “core attack on our democratic institutions” despite the fact that it is still a federal crime to damage federal property. If the purported acts of “harassment” and “intimidation” are carried out by parents against school boards at night, would those actions be equally punishable as if they were carried out during the day?

 

In closing, it is fitting to quote Justice William Brennan when he famously wrote for the court in the celebrated libel law decision New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964): “Thus we consider this case against the background of a profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust and wide open and that it may well include vehement, caustic and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.”

 

Sincerely,

ICYMI—Klobuchar Op-Ed in Marie Claire: “Early Detection Saves Lives. It Saved Mine.”

Source: United States Senator for Minnesota Amy Klobuchar

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Klobuchar published an op-ed in Marie Claire sharing her breast cancer story to encourage preventive care

WASHINGTON — In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) published an op-ed in Marie Claire sharing her breast cancer story to encourage people to take advantage of preventive care services.

In the piece, Klobuchar noted that promoting routine health exams is especially important this year, as many Americans have put off health care due to coronavirus-related concerns. 

From the op-ed:

  • “I will always remember the afternoon I got “the call.” I was about to head to the Senate Chamber to vote when I received the news from my doctor that we all fear: I had cancer.”
  • “That was eight months ago—the start of a path that would include surgery and radiation, which also coincided with my dad’s illness and death. Of course this has been difficult at times, but today my doctors say that my chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person’s.”
  • “As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am thinking about the many Americans who may have breast cancer but not know it because they’ve been putting off physicals or routine examinations due to the pandemic, just like I delayed mine.”
  • “But routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through are essential. By some estimates, thousands of people who missed their mammogram due to the pandemic may be living with undetected breast cancer.”
  • “If there is one thing I have learned through this experience, it is that every day is a gift. This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, cherish that gift by putting your health first and taking advantage of preventive care services. Go schedule a doctor’s appointment—and then call your friends and cheer them on when they do the same. It just might save their lives.”

Read the full op-ed here.

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Murkowski Responds to Reports Suggesting Crude Oil Ban

Source: United States Senator for Alaska Lisa Murkowski

10.09.21

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today responded to reports that the U.S. Department of Energy is considering a ban on U.S. crude exports.

“There was a reason I led the effort to lift the decades old, failed policy of a ban on the export of oil. Domestic crude oil production allows the U.S. to participate in global markets, creating jobs and opportunities for Americans, and helping our friends and allies. It was after the ban was lifted that the U.S. shifted to a position of true energy strength, allowing us to help balance the world oil markets. In fact, according to a 2015 analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the export of crude oil actually reduces domestic gas prices. Returning to a ban on oil exports is short-sighted and should not even be entertained as a response to the higher gas prices we are seeing right now. This is a knee jerk notion that will undercut our economic competitiveness, cause job loss across a valuable sector of our economy, weaken our national security and our ability to support our allies. The administration needs to walk back this idea as quickly as it was floated.”


McConnell Letter to AG Garland on DOJ Targeting Concerned Parents

Source: United States Senator for Kentucky Mitch McConnell

WASHINGTON D.C. — U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wrote a letter today to Attorney General Merrick Garland concerning his announcement that the Department of Justice will scrutinize and target parents who express concern about their children’s public educations.

The full letter is available here.

Excerpts from the letter are below:

• “Parents absolutely should be telling their local schools what to teach. This is the very basis of representative government. They do this both in elections and—as protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution—while petitioning their government for redress of grievance. Telling elected officials they’re wrong is democracy, not intimidation.”

• “While some schoolboard meetings have involved altercations with the police, they seem to have been isolated and dealt with effectively by local law enforcement. Violence, threats of violence, and other criminal behavior are always wrong. On the other hand, in your very backyard of Virginia, there have been shocking efforts by public officials to organize for the intimidation and harassment of parents who have the temerity to want a better education for their children… It’s exactly this kind of intimidation of private citizens by government officials that our federal civil rights laws were designed to prevent. ”

• “Why, in your view, are state and local law enforcement not adequately equipped to deal with any violence or threats that may arise from schoolboard protests?”

The full letter is available here.

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SCHUMER REVEALS: OVER 240 BRIDGES ARE DEEMED DEFICIENT ACROSS THE SOUTHERN TIER; SENATOR SECURES NEARLY $13.5 BILLION TO FINALLY FIX DILAPIDATED & DOWNRIGHT DANGEROUS BRIDGES ACROSS NY, CREATING JOBS, SAFER ROADS, AND SAVING LIVES

Source: United States Senator for New York Charles E Schumer

10.12.21

The Southern Tier Has At Least 240 Bridges Deemed To Be In Poor Condition And Pose Worsening Safety Issues With Each Passing Day

Senator Secures Major Funding To Address Structurally Deficient Bridges, Road Repair Backlog 

Schumer: It’s Time To Invest In Southern Tier’s Bridges Before It Proves A Bridge Too Far

After securing $8,572,706 million for Delaware County in the American Rescue Plan to address the region’s greatest needs as New York recovers from the worst of the COVID pandemic, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer met with Delaware County officials to discuss the status of “poor-rated” bridges, and announced $13.5 billion for New York in the recently Senate-passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 (IIJA), to address the backlog of repairs needed to fix the county’s deficient bridges, highways, and roads. Of that amount, an estimated $1.9 billion is exclusively for a new bridge replacement and repair program. New York will also be able to compete for a share of the nation’s $12.5 billion in competitive grant funding for the new Bridge Investment Program in the bill. Schumer revealed that at least 240 bridges in the Southern Tier have been deemed to be in “poor condition” and are deteriorating every day, posing safety and structural issues if repairs are not made ASAP.

“It’s long past time to make urgent repairs to the over 240 structurally deficient bridges in the Southern Tier. Crumbling bridges and road are a hazard to motorists, and impede economic development. With an over $45 million backlog of repairs needed for Delaware County bridges alone, we cannot afford to wait any longer,” said Senator Schumer. “Not only will the $13.5 billion I fought to secure in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework provide ample funding to finally address this backlog and fix dangerous bridges in the Southern Tier, but it will also be a major boon for the regional economy by creating good-paying construction jobs and making roads safer for everyone. Structurally deficient bridges cost New Yorkers time and money, and we must invest in the Southern Tier’s infrastructure before poor conditions prove a bridge too far.”

Schumer explained that structurally deficient bridges impact the economy negatively because they are frequently closed or posted for weight restrictions, forcing heavier vehicles such as trucks, busses, and farm equipment to find alternate routes that result in lost time and money. According to The Road Information Program, 10% of New York’s bridges are structurally deficient and continue to bear over 11.5 million vehicles per day. In the Delaware County, over 30 of bridges are structurally deficient.

New York’s bridge system is vital to supporting the Southern Tier economy, particularly its agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism industries, and are vital to the connectivity of the state. Nearly $1.3 trillion in goods are transported in New York every year – mostly by truck – and approximately 3.5 million full-time jobs in New York are dependent on the state’s transportation network. Schumer argued that fixing the state’s structurally deficient bridges sooner rather than later is imperative because bridge repairs become exponentially more expensive as damages increase and conditions worsen.

“Our transportation system is aging and ailing, and this investment to repair bridges in the Southern Tier will prove invaluable to connecting New Yorkers for the next century,” added Schumer.

Schumer was joined by Susan McIntyre, Delaware County Commissioner of Public Works, Rob Aikens, President of the Binghamton-Oneonta Building Trades Council, and other local officials.

“On behalf of the Village of Sidney, I want to thank Senator Schumer for fighting to secure funding for infrastructure improvement projects that will benefit our community in Delaware County,” said Andy Matviak, Mayor of the Village of Sidney.

“Transportation infrastructure, specifically our roads and bridges, is critically important to Delaware County’s businesses and the local economy. The funding being made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will aid our local farms and businesses in being able to move products in and out of the county, as well as improve access to our region for tourists,” said Glenn Nealis, Director of Economic Development for Delaware County.

In addition to the $13.5 billion provided in highway and formula bridge funding, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act also provides $12.5 billion for a competitive bridge program that states and localities can apply to. For the first time, the bill also creates the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program which provides $1 billion in competitive grants for planning and projects to remove, retrofit, or mitigate existing highways that were built through neighborhoods and created a barrier to mobility and economic development. The popular RAISE (Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity) grants, formerly known as BUILD or TIGER, fund transportation projects of national and regional significance and are funded in the bill at $7.5 billion over five years. The INFRA (Infrastructure for Rebuilding America) grant program, another competitive program that funds transportation projects with a strong connection to improving freight operations, is funded at $3.2 billion. Finally, New York is also expected to receive $175 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network in the state, and the ability to apply for the $2.5 billion in competitive EV charging grants.

Schumer also outlined other wins for the Southern Tier region in the Bipartisan Infrastructure bill. The Southern Tier will receive:

  • $790,000 for the Sidney Municipal Airport, $790,000 for the Albert S. Nader Regional in Oneonta, and $24,010,340 for other Southern Tier airports.
  • A sizable portion of the over $20 billion devoted for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds, including a carve out within the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to replace lead service lines in communities like the Southern Tier.

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News 10/12/2021 ICYMI: Blackburn Visits Border And Demands Biden Take Action: “This Cannot Continue”

Source: United States Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) visited the southern border to get a firsthand look at the humanitarian and national security crisis created by the Biden administration’s open border policies.

 

Sen. Blackburn tours border, says crisis ‘cannot continue’ as she calls on Biden admin to step up

Adam Shaw

Fox News

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., saw firsthand the situation on the southern border on Friday, and called on the Biden administration to take action.

 

“That this cannot continue” Blackburn told Fox News during a night tour of the border, when asked what her takeaway was from what she had seen. “That you have to find a way to secure this southern border, our nation’s security and our sovereignty depends on getting this issue solved.”

 

The Tennessee lawmaker said that the crisis at the border was the number one issue for her constituents, particularly the human trafficking, sex trafficking, drug trafficking and other effects that it has on non-border states.

“Because [President] Biden will not secure this border, every town is a border town, every state is a border state and Tennesseans are very concerned about this,” she told Fox, as gunshots rang out behind her from the Mexican side of the border.

 

Earlier in the day, Blackburn received a briefing from Texas Department of Public Safety officials, who have seen pursuits of vehicles filled with illegal immigrants increase by as much as 1,000% in some areas over the same period last year, as well as a significant haul of illegal drugs coming across the border. Border Patrol has apprehended 1.1 million illegal migrants in the state of Texas alone, DPS officials said.

 

Blackburn also toured a riverine in South Texas, viewed unfinished parts of the border wall and met with sheriffs, as well as ranchers who had been affected by the surge of illegal migrants coming across the border.

Ranchers showed the senator how their fences had been destroyed and outlined the enormous costs of repairing them left up to them, along with the cost of rounding their cattle back up and losing crops.

“This is something they have to deal with, they’ve done nothing wrong, it is just that their ranches and farms are close to the border,” she said.

 

While the Biden administration has sought to put the blame for the surge on the Trump administration and root causes like poverty, corruption and violence in Central America, the ranchers and others pinned the blame on the Biden administration’s policies — and asked why they have not heard from top officials like Vice President Kamala Harris.

 

“Where’s Kamala? Where in the hell is she?” one rancher asked. “How come she didn’t come down here?” 

 

Blackburn also spent time talking to Border Patrol members, a number of whom said that finishing the border wall, re-instating the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) and ending “catch-and-release” are key moves that would stop the surge that has seen more than 200,000 encounters in July and August.

 

“They also want to make certain Title 42 stays,” she said, referring to the Trump-era order that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “They are very concerned about the healthcare implications.”

 

However, any hope that the Biden administration would change course on the wall was snuffed out as the Department of Homeland Security announced Friday that it was canceling even more border wall contracts in Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley.

 

Blackburn told Fox how, in addition to the restoration of Trump-era border policies, she also backed stiffer penalties for smugglers and drug traffickers, including that those who engage in such activities be barred from receiving taxpayer-funded welfare.

 

“One thing that was quite remarkable to me was how many of these smugglers and drug runners live in government housing, they get government benefits, and their side hustle is working as a smuggler, drug mule or a trafficker — and when you apprehend someone they should immediately lose all those benefits,” she said.

 

But on the night tour of the border, which Fox News also attended, Border Patrol agents encountered a number of groups of migrant family units making their way to the nearest border station, some with very small children. Border Patrol have put up laminated signs pointing toward the processing stations so migrants don’t get lost.

 

Those migrants, agents warned, could be released into the U.S. interior as soon as that night or the following morning if they were not eligible to be removed under Title 42.

 

RELATED:

King, Murkowski Introduce Bill to Strengthen America’s Arctic Influence

Source: United States Senator for Maine Angus King

WASHINGTON, DC – The Office of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) announced today that Senators King and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) – co-chairs of the Senate Arctic Caucus – have introduced the Arctic Diplomacy Act of 2021, legislation designed to elevate Arctic issues in U.S. foreign policy by establishing an Assistant Secretary of State for Arctic Affairs who will lead and conduct U.S. foreign policy in the Arctic region and on Arctic issues. The Senate confirmed position will be responsible for influencing decisions and behavior of Arctic nations, Arctic issues, and activities in the Arctic region which includes establishing an Arctic diplomacy strategy; strengthening cooperation among Arctic countries; promoting responsible natural resource management and economic development; scientific monitoring and research; protecting the Arctic environment and conserving its biological resources; and Arctic indigenous knowledge and input. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) are original cosponsors.

“The Arctic is known to be a region of peace, but as maritime traffic and economic activity increase to the north, this stability must be maintained through careful, steady leadership and engagement with the rest of the Arctic community,” said Senator King. “The old saying goes ‘where you sit is where you stand,’ and not having a formal seat at the diplomatic table with a Senate-confirmed official means we have less standing in the region.  As the security environment changes so must our leadership, and we need an official to advance and protect America’s Arctic interests; as we continue to look ‘North to the Future’, I urge my Congressional colleagues to pass this forward-looking legislation with clear, tangible diplomatic and economic benefits.”

“As it stands, the United States is the only Arctic nation that does not have diplomatic representation in the Arctic at the ambassador level or higher. In fact, even non-Arctic countries, including China, have this designation. As an Arctic nation, this is unacceptable.  Having represented the United States at hundreds of Arctic events around the world, I know first-hand the value this position will bring to our country. It is important that the U.S. play an active and influential diplomatic role in the region,” said Senator Murkowski. “As the Arctic continues to see change, and activity in the region increases, the Arctic is an emerging geopolitical ‘grey zone’ that requires vigilance and diligent diplomacy. It is pivotal that the U.S. establish this position in order to conduct the type of diplomacy necessary to preserve a peaceful, prosperous Arctic. America and our Arctic allies desire the region to remain exceptional—but that requires a concerted effort from us all.”

As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Co-Chair of the U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus, Senator King is an advocate for Maine’s interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic region. In this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, he successfully lobbied for the inclusion of a provision creating the Arctic Security Initiative to improve the Department of Defense’s efforts in the region; the provision is based on legislation Senator King introduced earlier this year with Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska). Earlier this year, Senator King applauded the U.S. Navy’s recently-released Strategic Blueprint for the Arctic – the publication represents a forward-thinking approach to achieving U.S. priorities in the Arctic, and stresses Maine’s critical strategic importance in the region. Senator King previously introduced the Arctic Naval Focus Act of 2019 with Senators Sullivan and Murkowski, a bill that would direct the federal government to recognize the importance of the Arctic region to the United States’ national and economic security interests. He also invited Senator Sullivan on his monthly Inside Maine podcast to discuss U.S. military challenges and opportunities in the Arctic

The full text of the legislation can be read here.