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

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyDem senator asks for 'top to bottom' review of Syria policy A guide to the committees: Senate Verizon angling to lower price of Yahoo purchase: report 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 CorkerBob CorkerA guide to the committees: Senate Republicans play clean up on Trump's foreign policy GOP Congress unnerved by Trump bumps MORE (R-Tenn.) and John HoevenJohn HoevenA guide to the committees: Senate GOP senators unveil bill to give Congress control of consumer bureau budget Dem senator: DeVos bigger threat to education than grizzlies 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.”