Leahy: Border security measure reads 'like a Christmas wish list for Halliburton'

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyOvernight Regulation: Massachusetts AG sues Equifax | Trump weighs easing rules on gun exports | EPA nominee to fight worker safety rule in court Trump to ease rules on gun exports: report Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (D-Vt.) has panned a proposal to fast-track billions of dollars in spending on border security as a boondoggle for government contractors.

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Leahy said a proposal drafted by Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerDeficit hawks voice worry over direction of tax plan The Hill Interview: Budget Chair Black sticks around for now Overnight Finance: White House requests B for disaster relief | Ex-Equifax chief grilled over stock sales | House panel approves B for border wall | Tax plan puts swing-state Republicans in tough spot MORE (R-Tenn.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenThe Hill's Whip List: Republicans try again on ObamaCare repeal Air Force One is Trump’s new boardroom Overnight Finance: Trump strikes debt, spending deal with Dems | Deal shocks GOP | Fed’s No. 2 to resign | Trump keeps tax squeeze on red state Dems | House aims to pass budget next week MORE (R-N.D.) “reads like a Christmas wish list for Halliburton.” 

The amendment requires implementation and activation of $4.5 billion in technology and equipment to achieve full surveillance of the U.S.-Mexico border.

“I am sure there are federal contracting firms high-fiving at the prospect of all of the spending demanded by some of our friends on the other side in this amendment,” Leahy said on the Senate floor.

Leahy criticized the GOP-sponsored language for waiving standard federal contracting rules.

“That is a potential we must watch out for — for waste and fraud,” he said.


He said colleagues have failed to learn the lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the federal government spent tens of billions of dollars on contracts and projects with little oversight.

He said the border security provisions would require aggressive oversight from the Congress and the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security.

Corker and Hoeven estimate their amendment will cost roughly $30 billion over ten years. It funds the implementation costs by raising fees on legal immigration.

“I think we hear too much about spending money on one border rather than coming up with a comprehensive solution that takes pressure off that border,” Leahy said. “This package is border security on steroids.”