The measure, dubbed the “Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act,” provides $23.4 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, with $5.5 billion in funding available immediately.
About $16.6 billion would be dedicated to physical barriers, while the rest would cover technology, operations and other infrastructure costs associated with border security.
The money would come out of the annual Department of Homeland Security budget, leaving it up to appropriators to decide where to cut from in order to cover the cost of the bill.
“For decades, America’s inability to secure our borders and stop illegal immigration has encouraged millions to undertake a dangerous journey to come here in violation of our laws and created huge loopholes in the legal channels we use to welcome immigrants to our country,” McCarthy, a top Trump ally who seeks to replace retiring Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) next year, said in a statement.
“President Trump’s election was a wake-up call to Washington. The American People want us to build the wall and enforce the law,” McCarthy said.
Trump has long demanded $25 billion from Congress to construct the wall, but a massive funding bill passed by lawmakers earlier this year only appropriated $1.6 billion for border security.
And Congress passed a short-term spending bill last month to fund several agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, which has jurisdiction over the wall, essentially delaying a contentious fight over the issue until after the midterm elections.
While GOP leaders warned Trump that pushing for the wall before November could lead to a disastrous government shutdown, they have made clear that they are willing to go to the mat for the issue in December.
“We intend on having a full-fledged discussion about how to complete this mission of securing our border and we will have a big fight about it,” Ryan said earlier this week. “We’ll figure out how to do it December.”
The border wall bill from McCarthy includes plenty of other red meat items for conservatives, who were deeply frustrated with the failure of a hard-line immigration bill earlier this summer. Conservatives are expected to have major sway in determining the next Speaker of the GOP conference.
McCarthy’s measure would crack down on so-called sanctuary cities, boost penalties for deported criminals who try to re-enter the U.S. and make it easier to deport immigrants who are involved in criminal gang activity.
It also includes language expressing support for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, saying calls to abolish the agency are an “insult” to law enforcement and would result in “open borders.”
BY MELANIE ZANONA – 10/12/18