By Ted Hesson
July 25, 2017
BACKDOOR BORDER BOOST: The House Rules Committee is expected to slip $1.6 billion in border-wall funding into the “minibus” spending package that’s headed to the House floor this week. Why in a rule? Why not just amend the bill once it’s on the floor? Probably because the wall doesn’t have enough Republican support to pass there.
Back in April, the Wall Street Journal’s Laura Meckler and Kristina Peterson surveyed border lawmakers from both parties and couldn’t find any backers of a similar fiscal year 2017 proposal from the Trump administration. “Not a single member of the House or Senate representing the region expressed support for the funding request,” they wrote, and “senior congressional Republicans have long indicated that they prefer to leave it out.” GOP budget hawks are wary of the wall, too. So are Republicans who are immigration moderates.
The Rules Committee began consideration Monday night of nearly 300 amendments to the “minibus,” which would fund military construction and veterans’ affairs; the legislative branch; energy and water; and defense. Border wall funding falls under the Department of Homeland Security, which isn’t covered by the minibus, but no matter. The $1.6 billion will likely be attached via an amendment by Rep. John Carter (R-Texas). The amendment would fund 60 miles of new bollard-style fence and new levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley ($1.3 billion); 14 miles of secondary fence in the San Diego area ($250 million); and “planning for border wall construction” ($40 million) — all, Carter says, “necessary to gain operational control of the border.”
Democrats blasted Republicans for avoiding a floor vote. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), ranking member on the Rules Committee, called the border wall “offensive, expensive and ill-conceived,” and said funding it through a rule would be “undemocratic.” Earlier in the day, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said the expected maneuver was a “sneaky gimmick” and that the border wall spending was “deeply unpopular, especially in the border communities.” The committee meets again today (2 p.m. in H-313 of the Capitol) and is expected to vote on the spending package. Watch it here.
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