U.S. Rep. Ron Barber this week is leading two events in which members of the House will discuss threatened cutbacks to the U.S. Border Patrol that could impact homeland security.
Tomorrow, Barber is hosting a briefing for House colleagues and staff so they can get a better understanding of the life of a Border Patrol agent in the Southwest. And Friday, he will lead a hearing with Chairman Jeff Duncan examining the impacts of sequestration on the Border Patrol and the Department of Homeland Security.
"Those of us who live and work near the border understand the difficult and dangerous job faced by Border Patrol agents," Barber said. "But many members of Congress have never been to the border and have no idea how devastating any reduction in Border Patrol hours would be. In these two events I will introduce my colleagues to what my constituents and I see and hear all the time."
At tomorrow's briefing, five officials from the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol agents, will explain their jobs and the challenges they face.
Among those speaking will be Brandon Judd, president of the union who formerly was stationed in the Tucson Sector of the Border Patrol.
Barber is well-acquainted with the job performed by Border Patrol agents and is their staunch ally. The congressman has spent extensive time along the border talking with agents about their jobs and concerns.
In recent weeks, he listened to more than 150 Border Patrol agents and their families in two Southern Arizona gatherings. Leaders of Local 2544 of the Border Patrol Council invited Barber to speak to agents at meetings in Sierra Vista and Tucson because of his strong support for agents and his commitment to border security.
Friday, Barber will lead a hearing he called with Chairman Duncan held by the Committee on Homeland Security's Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency. Barber serves as ranking member of the committee.
The hearing will examine the impact of sequestration on DHS and include the impacts on Border Patrol hours and border security.
Barber has been harshly critical of sequestration, the irresponsible, across-the-board budget cuts mandated when Congress failed to reach agreement on a plan to reduce the debt and deficit.
Sequestration led the Department of Homeland Security to announce furloughs for Border Patrol agents one day every two weeks and steep reductions in overtime. Taken together, that would cut the pay of agents on the Southwestern border by up to 40 percent.
Barber subsequently supported a stopgap spending bill that led DHS to delay the furloughs and overtime reduction while re-evaluating its budget options. Barber has called on DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano to drop consideration of pay and overtime cuts for Border Patrol agents.