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Border bills would roll back environmental laws

Border security legislation introduced by Republicans in both chambers of Congress would waive a host of environmental and wildlife laws near the Mexican border.

The bills are part of the GOP’s attack on President Obama’s actions to stop deportations of certain illegal immigrants.

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In an effort to better ensure that the Homeland Security Department can keep the border secure from various threats and illegal immigration, the bills waive laws concerning public land protections, protections for endangered species and other restrictions.

“It is a fundamental responsibility of the federal government to ensure the territory of this nation is secure against any illicit entry and concealed threats, but on that account the government has failed consistently,” House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaulMichael Thomas McCaulSenate passes key cyber bill cementing cybersecurity agency at DHS Hillicon Valley: Trump stuns with election interference claim against China | FCC limits fees for 5G | Uber reaches 8M settlement over breach | Fox sells Sky stake to Comcast | House passes bills to fix cyber vulnerabilities Sessions calls on former colleagues to send drone legislation to Trump's desk MORE (R-Texas) said Wednesday when his panel met to approve the bill, which he sponsored.

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonCommerce Department IG to audit Trump's tariff exemptions Trump trip to rural Wisconsin highlights GOP’s turnout concern GOP senator seeking information on FBI dealings with Bruce Ohr, former DOJ lawyer MORE (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced similar legislation in the Senate.

Republicans say that various environmental and land protections make it difficult for security officials to patrol the border, build infrastructure and take other actions necessary to keep threats out of the country.

The bills would waive more than a dozen laws, such as the Wilderness Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and the Endangered Species Act within 100 miles of the United States’ border with Mexico.

In addition, the bills said that the Interior and Agriculture secretaries, who oversee various land management agencies, “shall not impede, prohibit, or restrict activities of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.”

Since 2006, the departments of Homeland Security, the Interior and Agriculture have worked under a joint agreement that prioritizes border protection over environmental rules. But Republicans say that’s not enough.