Democrats offer security bill that prohibits border wall funding
Democrats on Monday unveiled a Homeland Security spending bill for 2021 that would block funding for a border wall and leave the number of border patrol agents steady.
The $50.72 billion bill reduces funding for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), though it moves money around to add more CBP officers, support personnel and agricultural specialists, as well as investing in a slew of new border technologies.
“With the nation facing threats ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to terrorism and targeted violent extremism, our bill provides DHS [Department of Homeland Security] with the funding it needs to protect American communities, including vital investments in disaster preparedness, secure seaports and borders, safety for air travelers, and cybersecurity,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.).
The subject of the border wall has been a central obstacle in the annual funding fights since President Trump took office, even resulting in the longest shutdown in the nation’s history starting in late 2018.
While Congress has rejected Trump’s requests for billions of dollars for wall funding, it has acquiesced to having some funds spent for physical barriers in certain locations.
Following the prolonged shutdown in 2019, however, Trump used emergency powers to reprogram funds from defense and other accounts to pay for the wall.
The DHS bill released Monday would rescind the $1.374 billion from 2020’s agreed-upon barrier funding, citing Trump’s diversion of defense funds for the wall.
Separately, the House’s bill on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs also declined for the second year in a row to restore funding that Trump moved from certain construction, maintenance and repair projects toward building the wall.
The GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to accept the terms in the Democratic House bill, which is expected to advance along party lines this week.
Senate appropriators, however, have been mired in their own deadlock over Democratic insistence on including COVID-19 funding and police reform-related measures in the 2021 spending bills. Republicans say separate talks are underway on those issues, which shouldn’t muddy the waters of the annual spending bills.
As a result, the Senate Appropriations Committee has yet to release any spending bills, and is expected to lag behind the House.
Congress has until the next fiscal year starts Oct. 1 to pass new funding bills or a stopgap measure, without which a government shutdown would occur.
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