Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea highlighted border security and crime as top priorities Monday afternoon at an event where he was joined by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton.
Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, is a top surrogate for conservatives who frequently campaign for like-minded candidates. Having O’Dea sitting in the Senate — and part of a Republican majority — would mean progress in bolstering border security, Cotton said.
O’Dea challenges Democratic U.S. Senator Michael Bennet in November in a race seen as a red flag for the GOP to break Democratic control of the chamber.
Both Cotton and O’Dea attacked a provision of the Infrastructure Cuts Act that would increase hiring for the Internal Revenue Service and said the money would be better spent on the border and funding police.
“Let’s use this (IRS) funding to fix our border situation, use this funding to fix our local cops,” O’Dea said. “That’s where I would start.”
O’Dea called additional IRS agents being used to “shake up American workers.” O’Dea has previously argued that the estimate of additional financial authorities that would be levied with a new IRS hire is not worth the cost to taxpayers, and the country’s leaders should limit spending instead.
O’Dea said he supports border security, including the wall, while wanting to protect “dreamers” or immigrants who arrived in the country undocumented when they were young and grew up here.
As immigration and border security became bigger issues during the campaign in early summer, Bennet noted his work in pushing the Gang of 8’s immigration reform bill through the Senate in 2013, which ultimately stalled when Republican leaders in the House refused to introduce the bill. This bill would have expanded border patrol, included funding for fences along the border and expanded the visa program.
O’Dea, Cotton and moderator George Brauchler linked border security to the fentanyl crisis, saying an overstretched border patrol leaves more holes for cartels to smuggle the opiate into the country.
A recent study by the libertarian Cato Institute found that more than 90% of fentanyl seizures at the border take place at legal crossings, not on illegal migration routes, and 86% of convicted fentanyl traffickers are citizens. Americans. The study also found that a tiny number of people arrested for crossing the border illegally – 0.02% – had fentanyl on them.
Although O’Dea disputed this, he also argued that immigration and fentanyl smuggling issues were independently linked due to border patrol time and concentration limits.
“(Cops talk) about cartels, and they say they put it on illegal immigrants sometimes without their permission,” O’Dea said in an interview. “…We have a leaky border. They are flooded. There are too many places to go through right now. We have to rebuild our wall, we have to secure the border, and that’s how we stop this fentanyl.
In addition to increased border security, O’Dea also supports tougher penalties for possession of fentanyl. The seriousness of fentanyl possession charges has been hotly debated by state lawmakers this year, with proponents of felony charges saying it gives law enforcement leverage to climb the distributor hierarchy and as a tool to getting people to seek treatment; opponents argue that the state cannot stop to get out of a drug addiction crisis.
During the event, Cotton offered “to prosecute the cartels.”
“Think of what we would do if ISIS (Islamic State) and al-Qaeda moved into Tijuana and Juarez in Mexico and were responsible for 100,000 American deaths a year,” Cotton said. “Again, something the Democrats don’t have the stomach for, but we do, and if you give us a majority by electing Joe O’Dea, we will.”
Asked about Cotton’s comment, O’Dea turned to his national proposals.
Cotton said he was campaigning for O’Dea because he would be more effective for his constituents with an “active Republican majority”. He said he didn’t expect Joe O’Dea to vote with him all the time, while snapping a photo of Bennet’s voting record with his fellow Democrats, but counted on O’Dea to “put a brake on the more extreme parts of Biden’s agenda.