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

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDem senator praises Ford opening the door to testifying Ford opens door to testifying next week Senate Democrats increase pressure for FBI investigation of Kavanaugh 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 CorkerPoll: More voters oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination than support it Ford opens door to testifying next week Police arrest nearly two dozen Kavanaugh protesters MORE (R-Tenn.) and John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenOvernight Energy: Trump Cabinet officials head west | Zinke says California fires are not 'a debate about climate change' | Perry tours North Dakota coal mine | EPA chief meets industry leaders in Iowa to discuss ethanol mandate 74 protesters charged at Capitol in protest of Kavanaugh Big Oil’s carbon capture tax credit betrayal 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.”