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The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday released a bill allocating $1.6 billion to begin construction of a physical barrier along the U.S. border with Mexico, one of President Trump’s central campaign promises.
The bill funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for fiscal year 2018 also negates one of Trump’s central promises, that Mexico would pay for the construction of the wall.
“Keeping Americans safe by protecting our homeland is a top priority. This funding bill provides the resources to begin building a wall along our southern border, enhance our existing border security infrastructure, hire more border patrol agents, and fund detention operations,” said House Appropriations Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman John Carter.
Earlier in the day, DHS spokesman David Lapan said that the requested funding would be crucial to moving the project beyond current repairs, replacements and prototype projects.
“On the DHS side it’s clear that we’ve gotten a direction to secure the southern border, that a wall and barrier is part of that process along with people and technology and that funding from Congress is required for us to move forward on that,” he said.
Conservative lawmakers in recent days had begun warning that they would pull their votes from a budget and spending plan that failed to fund the wall.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) went so far as to tell Breitbart News that Trump would not sign a spending measure if a wall were not funded, though the White House has not commented on the matter.
The bill's accompanying report, to be released next week, will specify where the segments of the wall are to be built and their associated funding.
In total, the bill allocates $13.8 billion to customs and border protection. That includes the $1.6 billion for the wall, $100 million to hire 500 more Border Patrol agents, $131 million for new border technology, $106 million for aircraft and sensors and $109 million for "non-intrusive inspection equipment."
It also adds $619.7 million to Immigration and Customs Enforcement over current levels, bringing total funding for ICE to $7 billion.
–– Rafael Bernal contributed
Updated: 5:57 p.m.