BILLINGS- Montana U.S. Sen. Jon Tester told Q2 News Wednesday that a wall—or at least part of one—could be part of a compromise reached on border security.
Tester, a Democrat, is part of a 17 member, bi-partisan panel that was announced last week shortly after President Trump ended the 35-day partial government shutdown.
Both parties believe in the need for more border technology, staffing, and overall security, but the idea of a wall still divides lawmakers.
“A wall may be part of the equation; a fence might be part of the equation. That’s part of the negotiations,” Tester said. “We also have to look at the cost and not use the American taxpayer like an ATM machine.”
Trump tweeted before the panel began its first meeting that lawmakers are wasting their time if they are not contemplating a wall or physical barrier and has threatened to shut the government down again without one.
If the committee of Republicans and Democrats now meeting on Border Security is not discussing or contemplating a Wall or Physical Barrier, they are Wasting their time!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2019
While Tester agrees that there will not be a compromise without some kind of a wall, he’s not sure what form it will take or how long it will stretch. He thinks any agreement will also include additional manpower at the borders—including the northern border—and additional technology.
Tester says lawmakers at the meeting sent a clear message that they are willing to work together and don’t want another shutdown.
“It can be done. I think it will be done. It’s all about compromise and finding a sweet spot where I may not get everything I want in this bill, but it will be much better than what we have now,” he said.
Trump was quoted as saying that he believes the odds are less than 50 percent that lawmakers will work out a compromise, but Tester thinks the odds are much better than that.
“I don’t think there is any appetite in Congress right now to close the government down, so I think we will do some good work and put it forward. If the president chooses not to sign it, then hopefully the leaders will bring it back to their respective houses for a veto override, but I do believe in the end that we will have a compromise that is going to work for the security of this country,” Tester said.