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

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate Democrats demand answers on migrant child trafficking during pandemic Yates spars with GOP at testy hearing Vermont has a chance to show how bipartisanship can tackle systemic racism 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 CorkerTennessee primary battle turns nasty for Republicans Cheney clashes with Trump Sessions-Tuberville Senate runoff heats up in Alabama MORE (R-Tenn.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenBipartisan senators seek funding for pork producers forced to euthanize livestock House Republicans threaten pushback on Saudi Arabia amid oil market slump Overnight Energy: Trump rollback of Obama mileage standards faces court challenges | Court strikes down EPA suspension of Obama greenhouse gas rule | Trump floats cutting domestic oil production 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.”