HomePoliticsBorder wall towers over the impasse surrounding the Congressional shutdown

Border wall towers over the impasse surrounding the Congressional shutdown

“If anyone gets all squeamish about the border wall, I mean, frankly, kiss my a**,” Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy told CBS News, taking another long drive between the events in Texas, four weeks long. for a imminent closure of the federal government.

Twenty-six days before the deadline to avoid a deadlock threatening government operations and a shock to the US economyan extensive southern border wall appears to be a towering obstacle. Even before it’s built.

Members of the House of Representatives will return to Washington next week to face the daunting task of pushing nearly a dozen annual spending bills through a polarized and controversial House of Congress.

The first order of business appears to be a $62 billion plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security, a debate expected to begin in the House Rules Committee a day after the country holds services to mourn the victims of the terrorist attacks from September 11. .

The House of Representatives bill contains a number of controversial topics, ranging from cuts in funding for government diversity programs to cuts in humanitarian and climate programs. But perhaps the biggest and most crippling source of contention is a multi-billion dollar investment in the expansion of a wall on the southern border.

The United States Capitol on August 1, 2023 in Washington, DC. / Credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Republicans in the House of Representatives have been in favor of expanding the border wall for years, following a campaign pillar of former President Donald Trump. The House of Representatives Republican bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which could reach the House of Representatives in mid-September, would free up $2.104 billion for the construction and expansion of a southern border barrier.

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Roy, whose district includes much of Texas north of San Antonio, has a seat on the House Rules Committee, which has scheduled the Sept. 12 hearing to debate whether to pass the spending bill to the House of Representatives.

Speaking to CBS News, Roy said, “It’s hugely important. We have to do it. We paid for it. There are parts (of the wall) that are rusting.”

Roy said the Biden administration is “trying to sell it. We paid people not to build it. It’s completely absurd. You do need a border infrastructure.’

“A wall is a sixth-century solution. It’s just a horrible, horrible bill,” said Maryland Democratic Rep. David Trone, a member of the House Homeland Security subcommittee. “Republicans malign immigrant bigotry by saying they are bringing fentanyl across the border.”

In a report accompanying the legislation, Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee said previous attempts to fund the border wall expansion have been crushed by the Biden administration. The report from the House of Representatives Republicans says that the Biden administration “has repeatedly taken steps to frustrate the clear and unequivocal intent of Congress in providing this funding.”

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“Instead of building a border wall system as required by law, this government has canceled contracts, allowed materials to languish in the elements and left unfinished sections of the barrier that create funnels for illegal migration and make the job of border police officers more difficult. the report continued.

Democrats in the House of Representatives have rejected the bill, fighting Republicans’ criticism of the wall, while top House Appropriations Democrats have written a report to accompany the spending bill.

“This bill continues to waste billions of dollars on an ineffective border wall,” the Democrats’ bill said. “We know from history that walls don’t work. As a result, this bill fails to adequately resource areas where we know there are significant threats, such as our ports of entry and Border Police checkpoints.”

This summer, the House of Representatives struggled through a slow process to pass the annual appropriations bills needed to avoid a government shutdown ahead of the Sept. 30 deadline. With a remarkably narrow majority, and only four Republican votes left for any controversial party-line legislation, Republicans in the House of Representatives have padded some of their spending bills with controversial language that virtually guarantees universal Democratic opposition.

One of the controversial proposals in the Homeland Security spending bill is a new provision banning gender-affirming drugs and surgeries for immigration detainees. The legislation also cuts funding for climate change initiatives and diversity efforts in the government’s homeland security services.

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Trone, who is also seeking his party’s nomination in the 2024 Senate race, said Democrats strongly oppose the proposals.

“Congress dictates that we go backwards, not forward where everyone else wants to go,” Trone told CBS News.

Some of the larger parts of the bill are gaining wider support, including funding to expand the recruitment of thousands of Border Patrol officers and investment in new Coast Guard cutters.

Even if Republicans in the House of Representatives manage to secure enough votes to pass the homeland security spending bill, including the new investment in a border wall, the legislation is about to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate . In a letter to colleagues last week, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer wrote, “When the Senate returns next week, our focus will be on funding the government and preventing Republican extremists in the House from forcing a government shutdown. “

The Senate returns on Tuesday and faces the likelihood of a high-stakes deadlock with deadlines and negotiations with the House of Representatives to avoid a shutdown.

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