For the second straight year, Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) offered an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act that would set aside money to build cell phone towers on the Southwest border with Mexico. And for the second straight year, the amendment received strong support during a role call vote late last night in the House, passing by a 302-to-113 margin.
The amendment offered by Rep. Poe, along with Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.), would reallocate $10 million of funding for the Office of the Under Secretary for Management to Border Patrol to build the cell phone towers.
During his floor speech, Rep. Poe said the need for cell towers along the Southwest border become evident after the 2010 murder of rancher Robert Krentz, Krentz's wife, Sue, told Rep. Poe that she believes her husband was trying to call her via cell phone to ask for help, but he was in an area with no cell service. Rep. Poe said the need for the amendment was first brought to the House by reitred House Member Gabby Giffords.
"The inability of the U.S. Government to secure the U.S.-Mexico border creates public safety hazards for residents who live on the border and the law enforcement agents who patrol them. Many border areas are rural and lack wireless communication capabilities like cellular phone service, making border security a public safety issue," Rep Poe said on the House floor.
"The lack of cell phone service presents an obvious safety issue for ranchers, as my friend, Congressman Poe outlined, and it's a safety issue for residents and the National Guard troops who patrol that protected area. If a rancher feels threatened, he cannot currently call for help or alert law enforcement to the situation," Rep. Altmire said on the House floor.
Click here for the roll call vote.
Updated: Thu, Jun 7th 2012 @ 10:17am EDT