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Senate passes bill aimed at increasing jobs, border security in North Dakota

Max Raterman, director of Air Operations, Office of Air and Marine, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, inspects one of two MQ9 Predator B that the agency uses to patrol the borders and assist local law enforcement in this file photo. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

WASHINGTON—A bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., intending to increase border security and bolster the workforce passed Thursday through the Senate with a unanimous vote.

The Customs and Border Protection Hiring and Retention Act, would aims to fix low retention rates and challenges faced by hiring in rural locations, according to a news release from Heitkamp's office. The measure would allow the CBP to speed up the hiring process, offer bonuses or special pay rates, and educate employees about opportunities to boost recruitment, the release said.

The CPB has had challenges retaining and recruiting employees in rural locations, including along the North Dakotan border, the release said. The bill will address employment problems while simultaneously boosting border security for the 120 ports of entry along the northern border, Heitkamp said.

"The CBP HiRe Act is a common-sense, bipartisan solution to the bureaucratic hiring process that has left the border and our ports of entry understaffed," Flake said.