The House Appropriations Committee has included the full $1.6 billion required to begin construction on the proposed border wall between the US and Mexico in its Homeland Security bill. The information was released on Tuesday and meets the request made by President Donald Trump regarding moving forward with the southern border wall.
As reported by CNN, the Homeland Security bill also includes funding for an additional 500 Border Patrol agents along with technological upgrades to assist with securing the border. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement would also be able to hire 1,600 new staff members as well as increase their detention capacity.
House Republicans are expected to have enough clout to pass the bill even if some members of the party choose to oppose it. However, it is anticipated that the struggle will be greater in the Senate, where eight Democrats would need to be in favor of the bill along with the Republicans.
Democrats have already suggested that any bill that includes funds for the border wall will be opposed, stating last month that they would stand against “poison pill riders.”
Senate Democratic leaders addressed their GOP counterparts in a letter, saying, “We are once again concerned with the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 request for a very expensive, ineffective new wall along the southern border with Mexico and new funding for the Department of Homeland Security to hire a ‘deportation force’ and increase detention beds.”
Speaking in regards to the proposed funding bill, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said, “a wall of bipartisan opposition is the only thing House Republicans are trying to build here.”
The division in the Senate suggests a possible government shutdown could be in the near future if legislators can’t come to an agreement regarding the proposed funding of the border wall. The current fiscal year ends on September 30.
While Republican leadership has yet to comment on the shutdown risk, John Carter, the Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman, considers the funds a “top priority.”
Mark Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said during an interview, “My conversations with the President have led me to believe that there is nothing less than a full and total commitment on his part to only sign into law a funding bill that actually allows for us to start construction of a border wall on our southern border.”
David Lapan, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, stated the agency has “gotten a direction to secure the southern border.” He goes on to confirm that “a wall and barrier is part of that process,” but “people and technology” are also required.
Lapan asserted that “funding from Congress is required for us to move forward with that, so it is important for us to get the money that’s included in the budget.”
The roughly $1.6 billion included in the bill, based on Department of Homeland Security estimates, would provide for 74 miles of construction including 28 miles of levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley, 14 miles of replacement secondary fencing in the San Diego area, and an additional 32 miles of wall.