Senate panel approves bill allowing some border patrol agents to skip polygraphs

Senate panel approves bill allowing some border patrol agents to skip polygraphs
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A Senate panel approved legislation on Wednesday that would allow certain border patrol applicants to skip out on lie detector test requirements.

In a 9-2 vote, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee backed the amended bill, which would waive duplicative Customs and Border Protection (CBP) polygraph hiring requirements for applicants who have qualifying law enforcement or military experience.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' Romney backs Laura Bush on border: 'We need a more compassionate answer' Mark Sanford’s troubles did not begin with Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), is part of an effort to help CBP hire more border agents and staff the nation’s ports of entry. The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainTrump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril McCain calls on Trump to rescind family separation policy: It's 'an affront to the decency of the American people' Senate passes 6B defense bill MORE (R-Ariz.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate probes FBI's heavy-handed use of redactions to obstruct congressional investigators Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult MORE (R-Wis.), chairman of the Homeland Security panel.

The measure comes as President Trump has called for hiring thousands more border agents in order to enforce his crackdown on immigration and drug smuggling.

But CBP is facing a major staffing shortfall, with 1,700 border patrol agent positions and 1,000 CBP officer positions unfilled at the agency.

Some have blamed the way lie detector tests are administered at the CBP, which has seen failure rates far higher than any other government agency that requires polygraphs for its employees.

Since 2013, all applicants for law enforcement positions at CBP have been required to pass a polygraph test. But only about 1 percent of applicants end up successfully being hired, according to Flake’s office.

Flake hopes to help ease the pre-employment screening process for certain law enforcement officers and military veterans.

“At a time when Arizonans are rightfully demanding a secure border, it’s unjustifiable to be turning away qualified applicants with distinguished military and law enforcement service because of a potentially flawed polygraph,” Flake said in a statement.