Freedom Caucus chairman rips Gateway funding: Trump campaigned on a wall, not a tunnel

Freedom Caucus chairman rips Gateway funding: Trump campaigned on a wall, not a tunnel
© Greg Nash

Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark MeadowsMark Randall MeadowsThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight Winners and losers in the border security deal GOP braces for Trump's emergency declaration MORE (R-N.C.) on Wednesday slammed the expected inclusion of funding for a multibillion-dollar rail project in the New York metro region in must-pass government spending legislation, arguing President TrumpDonald John TrumpRosenstein expected to leave DOJ next month: reports Allies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump States file lawsuit seeking to block Trump's national emergency declaration MORE campaigned for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border instead of a tunnel.

“It is troubling when we get a tunnel and we don’t get a wall,” the lawmaker said during a “Conversations with Conservatives” talk hosted by the Heritage Foundation. 

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“And the last time I checked, the president didn’t make any promises about building a tunnel in any of his campaign stops, at least not anywhere in North Carolina.”

Meadows’s comments come as lawmakers race to pass an omnibus spending package ahead of a March 23 deadline to avert a third government shutdown this year.

The Gateway rail reconstruction project, which includes restoring the tunnel under the Hudson River, has become a sticking point in the ongoing government funding negotiations.

Despite Trump’s prior threat to veto legislation that includes $900 million in funding, the Gateway project could tap could tap up to $541 million in federal dollars.

Meadows said on Wednesday that conservatives have “minimal” leverage in the discussions over the funding for Gateway, which the Trump administration has backed away from in recent months.

“The leverage of conservatives on this particular issue has been minimal,” said Meadows. “We have tried to negotiate around the edges.” 

Meadows also said there is “really no wall funding” in the omnibus, which is expected to include $641 million for new nonconcrete border fencing. That number falls short of funding calls from the president, but the spending package is also expected to contain approximately $1.3 billion in funding for new border technology.