The Senate passed a bill Thursday that would reform the way border patrol agents are paid overtime.

Sen. Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterLobbying world The Hill's Morning Report - Biden's infrastructure plan triggers definition debate Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden's job MORE (D-Mont.) introduced S.1691, the Border Patrol Agent Pay Reform Act, which he said will save $70 million a year.


Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperOVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate confirms Mallory to lead White House environment council | US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019 | Interior further delays Trump rule that would make drillers pay less to feds Key Democrat says traveler fees should fund infrastructure projects Senate confirms Biden's pick to lead White House environmental council MORE (D-Del.) said reforms were needed because the existing border patrol overtime system is too complicated and difficult to manage.

“[The bill] will save taxpayers money, and increase our ability to patrol — and secure — our borders,” Carper said. “Given the challenges we face on the border — which have only been underscored by recent events — I have to say that moving this bill seems like a no-brainer to me.”

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), would place limits on the amount of overtime pay received by border patrol agents by changing the rules of overtime compensation. It allows border patrol agents to choose between three pay schedule options and work either 100 hours (20 hours of overtime), 90 hours (10 hours of overtime) or 80 hours (no overtime) per pay period.

“The need for a modern pay schedule that provides stability for agents and their families is something I hear about every time I visit the border,” Tester said. “Establishing a new pay schedule will get more agents on the borders and make our nation more secure while actually saving taxpayers money. It's a win across the board.”

The legislation comes as U.S. border patrol agents have become overwhelmed with thousands of child immigrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Carper said it was critical that Congress pass legislation to help treat the “symptoms” of this problem.

“It is critical that we understand and address the root causes of why people will risk everything to come here in the first place. Based on what I have seen in my trips to some of these countries, those root causes are the lack of economic opportunity and the deteriorating security situation in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.”

The Senate passed the bill by voice vote Thursday night before adjourning. It now heads to the House for further action.