Five GOP senators have said they plan to deny support to any omnibus spending measure over a lack of adequate funding for border security to include, specifically, money to continue construction of the Trump-era border wall.
In a letter to colleagues that will be sent on Monday, Sens. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) point out that various spending proposals that have been released thus far by the Senate Appropriations Committee “fail to provide America’s border agents with the proper security infrastructure necessary to defend America’s southern border from the continued crisis of unrestrained illegal migration.”
The letter and its contents were first reported by Fox News.
“The failure to provide sufficient resources is a continuation of the Biden-Harris Administration’s inability and unwillingness to acknowledge the humanitarian and national security risks created by its open-border policies,” the GOP senators further note.
“We write to indicate that we will withhold support of any negotiated Fiscal Year 2022 omnibus funding agreement that fails to appropriately fund our nation’s border security,” they continued.
While Democrats control the evenly upper chamber, they do so only with Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote. It’s not clear if Democrats would attempt to use the reconciliation process to pass the omnibus package, which would only require a simple majority; all 50 of their members would have to support the bill for it to pass in that manner.
The letter comes amid a worsening migrant and drug smuggling crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border which Republicans have asserted for months is the result, primarily, of President Biden’s reversals of Trump-era security and enforcement policies. More than 1.7 million migrants have been encountered by Border Patrol agents and other Homeland Security personnel; it’s impossible to estimate how many migrants slipped into the country unnoticed.
The Biden administration, by contrast, has blamed the dramatic uptick in crossings on poverty, crime, and violence in migrants’ home countries.
The five GOP senators noted in their letter that border wall funding has been removed from all Democrat appropriations legislation. The measure to fund the Department of Homeland Security, for instance, had $1.9 billion in wall funding rerouted to other line items. It also cuts about a half-billion dollars from Customs and Border Security even as the migrant and drug smuggling crisis has worsened.
“Rather than continuing to waste taxpayer dollars on border walls while ignoring proven, more effective, and less costly investments to improve border security, these funds will be refocused toward innovative and cost-effective capabilities and will also provide critical investments to support CBP employees,” the says a summary of the bill.
The senators also pointed out that a $50 million earmark permitting wall construction on federal land has been removed despite “significant evidence” that the wall construction during President Trump’s term became a “critical tool for America’s border security agents to combat illegal migration, drug smuggling, and human trafficking.”
“The continuation of border security funding, particularly continued funding for physical barrier construction, remains necessary during the continued immigration crisis,” they wrote. “As such, and in the defense of our nation, we will not offer support for any fiscal year 2022 omnibus agreement that omits this funding or authorizes the administration to remove previously constructed border security measures.”
The letter comes amid ongoing legal action taken by states regarding border security. Earlier this week, Missouri and Texas filed lawsuits in federal court arguing that the administration’s rerouting of funds earmarked previously by Congress for border wall construction was unconstitutional.
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