“I know the public supports it. They have been demanding it for decades, and of course, the political process has never given that to the American public,” he said.
“We have to secure the border as opposed to comprehensive reform,” the Wisconsin Republican said.
Johnson, Cornyn and Flake announced their border security measure Wednesday, which is designed to be a companion bill to the border security legislation introduced by House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul of Texas.
Johnson said that because Cornyn, Flake and McCaul are all from border states, “they have been dealing with this issue” first hand, and he’s planning “to look to their expertise.”
“Certainly, Chairman McCaul has been drafting and crafting bills for a while,” he added.
McCaul told The Texas Tribune that the House border security bill “is the toughest border security bill ever before Congress” and it includes “real penalties for the administration for not doing their job.”
As Johnson takes the reins of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, the Wisconsin Republican says that “the mission statement of our committee under my chairmanship is pretty simple. It’s ‘to enhance the economic and national security of America.’
“If you want to keep this nation safe, we need to defeat ISIS. We need to secure our border,” he said.
“It starts with recognizing reality — that’s what we’re going to be holding hearings on, and then we’ll set achievable goals.”
“I’m really going to bring a fresh pair of eyes to this process, but I don’t want to reinvent the wheel where there’s some really good prescriptive items we can employ to secure the border,” he said. “I want to utilize those things.”
Johnson admits that the border security bill “is a starting point,” and that he also plans to work with Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s Judiciary Committee “to make sure we combine a border security and immigration enforcement provision because you really need to combine both.”