GOP Senate candidate Tim Sheehy wants to eliminate the Department of Homeland Security - TAI News
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Montana Republican U.S. Senate candidate Tim Sheehy has reportedly called for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The federal department, created after the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, coordinates anti-terrorism and security efforts among federal agencies. It has overseen numerous grants and programs to help protect public safety in Montana and employs a significant number of Montanans.

Sheehy, a millionaire aerospace business executive, is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in this November’s election. His campaign site issues page lists national security and border security as top priorities, along with his opposition to abortion, Obamacare, and “the woke social agenda infecting our schools.”

Axios reported on March 25 that at three separate campaign events, Sheehy told voters that he wants to abolish DHS, saying it is “anything but homeland security,” is “not needed,” and can “go away.”

Sheehy’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

In its report on the Sept. 11 attacks, the bipartisan National Commission on Terrorist Attacks cited a lack of coordination by disparate government agencies responsible for national security and intelligence as a major problem: “The missed opportunities to thwart the 9/11 plot were also symptoms of a broader inability to adapt the way government manages problems to the new challenges of the twenty-first century.”

In November 2002, Republican President George W. Bush signed the Homeland Security Act into law, bringing agencies responsible for customs, border security, immigration, emergency management, cybersecurity, and transportation security under one department. “The new department will analyze threats, will guard our borders and airports, protect our critical infrastructure, and coordinate the response of our nation for future emergencies,” he said. “The Department of Homeland Security will focus the full resources of the American government on the safety of the American people. This essential reform was carefully considered by Congress and enacted with strong bipartisan majorities.”

Since that time, DHS and its member agencies have provided millions of dollars in grants to Montana. The agency currently employs about 700 of the state’s residents. 

A Transportation Safety Administration spokesperson told the Montana Independent that about 300 of those employees handle baggage screening and other operations at 13 Montana airports. Eight airports use TSA-contracted security companies, and five use federal transportation security officers directly employed by the agency.

TSA officers stopped passengers trying to carry firearms onto flights 212 times between 2019 and 2013 at those locations. 

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved 10 disaster declarations in Montana since January 2021, including six for fires, three for floods, and one for damaging winds. After one flooding incident in 2022, FEMA distributed more than $3.6 million to 330 affected individuals and provided $38 million in public assistance grants. Tester, Republican Sen. Steve Daines, and Republican Rep. Matt Rosendale helped secure the funds.

In 2018, Tester announced $1.5 million in grants for 14 Montana counties through DHS’ Operation Stonegarden program. The funds allowed localities to increase public safety hiring and technology near the U.S.-Canada border. 

Hill County Sheriff Jamie Ross told NBC Montana in 2020 that the funds were vital. “We’re preventing terrorism,” he said. “We are preventing smuggling. We’re preventing human trafficking.”

Tester voted for a bipartisan funding bill in March that increased DHS funding for fiscal year 2024. In a press release, his office touted its investment in border security and fentanyl screening technology. 

“I’m confident this targeted package will deliver for Montana’s families and small businesses, provide additional resources to help secure our southern border and combat the deadly flow of fentanyl into our communities, and keep America the greatest country in the world,” Tester said.

According to data, in the past three years alone Montana has received millions of dollars in DHS grants, including funds for firefighters in Great Falls and Blankenship, statewide dam safety, and resilient infrastructure for the Northern Cheyenne and Chippewa Cree tribes.

Former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Sheehy in February, praised the department in a 2019 Sept. 11 commemoration speech: “This morning, we also give thanks to the dedicated men and women at the Department of Homeland Security. Their Department was created after 9/11 to help secure our immigration system and ensure that those who threaten our people are denied entry to our shores.”

That same year, Trump blasted New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for suggesting that DHS should be reorganized, tweeting: “The ‘Squad’ is a very Racist group of troublemakers who are young, inexperienced, and not very smart. They are pulling the once great Democrat Party far left, and were against humanitarian aid at the Border… And are now against ICE and Homeland Security. So bad for our Country!”

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The Montana Independent is a project of American Independent Media, a 501(c)(4) organization whose mission is to use journalism to educate the public, giving them the information they need about local and federal issues.