GOP senator: Trump’s wall a ‘metaphor’ for securing border

GOP senator: Trump’s wall a ‘metaphor’ for securing border
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSenate probes FBI's heavy-handed use of redactions to obstruct congressional investigators Hillicon Valley: DHS gets new cyber chief | White House warns lawmakers not to block ZTE deal | White nationalists find home on Google Plus | Comcast outbids Disney for Fox | Anticipation builds for report on FBI Clinton probe Graham jokes about Corker: GOP would have to be organized to be a cult MORE (R-Wis.) says he believes President Trump’s promise to build a border wall “was a metaphor for securing the border.”

“I always thought the wall was a metaphor for securing the border,” Johnson told CNN's “New Day” on Thursday. 

Johnson, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, stressed that border patrol authorities say barriers and fencing serve their purposes of securing the border well. 

“We have an administration who is committed to securing the border in whatever shape and form that takes. And yes, we do need better barriers, we need better fencing. We’ve had border patrol deputies and chiefs telling us fencing works. We need more of it. But I think we are going to do this in a very thoughtful manner,” Johnson added. 

Johnson said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly is evaluating the best ways to enhance border security, including both physical barriers and increased patrol personnel.

“Secretary Kelly is undergoing the study right now. We will do this in a prioritized way, step-by-step building barriers wherever we need to, introducing technology and building our manpower force — fixing personnel problems so we can actually hire the people we need to keep our border secure.”

CNN's Chris Cuomo pointed out that Trump has never referred to his campaign promise as a metaphor — rather, the president has repeatedly insisted and vowed the wall will be built. 

“Alright, Sen. Ron Johnson, appreciate it. I never heard the president refer to it as a ‘metaphor,’ but you make a reasonable case here for why it should be that way,” Cuomo said to Johnson at the end of the interview. 

During a Wednesday Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, Johnson agreed with ranking member Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report — Can the economy help Republicans buck political history in 2018? Dems seek to leverage ObamaCare fight for midterms Dems say Obama return from sidelines is overdue MORE (D-Mo.) that agents have made their case for fencing over a physical wall. They like that they can see through the links and know what is happening on the other side of the fence.

Kelly also attended the meeting and denied reports that the White House plans to build a wall from “sea to shining sea.” 

"It is unlikely that we will build a wall, a physical barrier, from sea to shining sea," Kelly said.