McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — A South Texas congresswoman has filed legislation that would allow Border Patrol agents to still get paid even if the federal government shuts down at week’s end.
U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, a Republican who represents a sprawling district from the border town of McAllen to the San Antonio outskirts, late Tuesday filed HB 5694, the Pay Our Border Patrol and Customs Agent Act, her office told Border Report.
If passed, the bill would allow funds from the Treasury that are “not otherwise appropriated” to be used to pay Border Patrol agents and officers within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Field Operations in the event that the federal government shuts down because of failed budget negotiations for the Fiscal Year 2024 budget, according to the bill.
CBP officers, dressed in blue, staff the 328 U.S. ports of entry, including land ports on the Southwest border with Mexico.
Border Patrol agents, dressed in green, patrol the borderlands and lands in between the ports and apprehend those who try to illegally cross into the country.
With surges of migrants currently crossing the Rio Grande into South Texas, De La Cruz says it’s imperative that agents are justly compensated for their work.
“Border Patrol agents work hard each and every day to keep our border and nation safe,” De La Cruz said. “The thought of not paying these agents during a government shutdown is unconscionable. That is why I introduced this legislation to make sure they are taken of.”
De La Cruz tweeted Wednesday that she filed the bill “to ensure that U.S Customs and Border Protection agents working during a potential government shutdown are paid.”
“Our border security means our national security,” she told FOX News on Wednesday.
She said over 50,000 migrants have illegally crossed into South Texas in the past five days.
Most have crossed into Eagle Pass, Texas, from Piedras Negras, upwards of 8,000 to 10,000 there per day.
“It’s our brave Border Patrol men and women that are on the front lines it’s not their fault that we are in capitol chaos trying to deal with these appropriations in Washington, DC. They’re still going to show up protecting our communities so we need to do our job to make sure they get paid during this time,” she told FOX.
She touted the bill, just hours old, has already gotten bipartisan support, including that of U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat from Laredo, who represents the border counties of Webb, Starr and Zapata.
De La Cruz says the bill also is supported by U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Republican who also represents the South Texas border, and she says House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has expressed interest in it as well.
Her office tells Border Report the bill, if passed, would not be the first to move funds during a government shutdown to cover the salaries of essential workers. This has been done previously when Congress has failed to pass a budget.
A shutdown will happen at 12:01 ET Sunday morning if a continuing resolution or a Fiscal Year 2024 budget is not passed by Congress.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@BorderReport.com.