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

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

Sen. Ron JohnsonRon JohnsonGOP frets over stalled agenda Conservatives target Congress, not Trump, after healthcare collapse Healthcare push leaves Republicans in disarray 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 McCaskillSenate Dems warn potential Missouri GOP recruit with opposition research dump GOP rep declines Senate bid challenging McCaskill Vulnerable senators raise big money ahead of 2018 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.