Republican Blake Masters challenged Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) on Thursday over the Democrat’s support for legislation beefing up the IRS with up to 87,000 more employees while voting against an amendment that would have funded 18,000 more Border Patrol agents.
Kelly and Masters faced off in a debate, the first and likely only one in the race for one of Arizona’s seats in the U.S. Senate, in Phoenix on Thursday evening. The two major party candidates were joined on stage by Libertarian candidate Marc Victor.
Shortly after opening remarks, Kelly and Masters entered a back-and-forth over immigration and inflation. Masters hit Kelly over his votes on the Inflation Reduction Act by contrasting the bill’s funding of up to 87,000 additional IRS employees and Kelly’s vote against an amendment that would have funded an additional 18,000 Border Patrol agents to help handle the immigration crisis.
“Mark Kelly said no to 18,000 more Border Patrol agents, but yes to 87,000 new IRS agents. That shows you what his priorities are,” Masters said. “Mark Kelly left our southern border wide open, voted for all the trillions in spending that caused this massive inflation, and he thinks the fix is 87,000 new IRS agents.”
Kelly stated that he voted for additional resources for the U.S. Border Patrol in other votes.
“There are votes that happen in D.C. that have nothing to do with Border Patrol agents, and it might have the title on it and nothing happens, right? So what I have done is I got $1 billion more for Border Patrol agents, for staffing, you know, for the technical systems to monitor the border, and, where they make sense, to build more border barriers,” Kelly said.
Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which is expected to have no near-term impact on inflation, into law in August after the legislation was passed through both chambers of Congress with no GOP support. The bill allocated $740 billion toward the IRS, Affordable Care Act subsidies, and green energy subsidies and tax credits among other spending.
The IRS’s portion was $80 billion, allowing the agency to potentially hire tens of thousands more agents to conduct audits and enforce the tax code.