Budget

Senate Republicans call on colleagues to reject government spending bills without border wall funding

A group of Senate Republicans is pushing their colleagues to withhold support for bipartisan annual spending legislation if it does not include funding for the border wall, a signature project of former President Trump’s for which Democrats hope to rescind funding.

In a Monday letter, GOP Sens. Mike Braun (Ind.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.) vowed not to back the appropriations legislation if dollars are not set aside for the wall.

Last month, Senate Democrats unveiled legislation seeking to rescind $1.9 billion in border wall funding from previous years. Democrats say the funding would be directed toward bolstering border security technology, among other measures.

They also said the funding would also be used for repair damage to the environment due to construction of the barrier.

President Biden’s budget for fiscal 2022, unveiled earlier this year, also called for funding for the border wall to end.

The group of GOP senators panned the legislation as “partisan,” saying it fails to provide “border agents with the proper security infrastructure necessary to defend America’s southern border from the continued crisis of unrestrained illegal migration.”

Republicans claimed the proposed legislation would also cut funding to the U.S. Border Patrol’s budget from the previous year’s spending levels and give the Biden administration authority to remove portions of the wall that were erected in the past. 

“The continuation of border security funding, particularly continued funding for physical barrier construction, remains necessary during the continued immigration crisis,” they wrote.

“As such, and in the defense of our nation, we will not offer support for any fiscal year 2022 omnibus agreement that omits this funding or authorizes the administration to remove previously constructed border security measures,” they added.

The joint letter signals another challenge for Democrats as they work to resume stalled negotiations on the annual spending bills, which will require at least 60 votes in the evenly split upper chamber for passage.

As government funding for fiscal 2021 was set to expire at the end of September, Congress passed a stopgap bill in the eleventh hour to buy time for negotiations. 

The legislation allows the government to remain funded into early December. Congress is expected to pass another continuing resolution (CR) in the next few weeks to avoid a shutdown as both sides of the aisle have failed to reach an agreement on defense funding and an overall top line for spending.

Earlier this month, Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) floated the possibility of a yearlong CR if lawmakers aren’t able to find common ground on spending.

“If there’s no progress then we could be headed for a yearly CR. A lot of people would like that,” he told reporters then.

But congressional Democrats have pushed back on that possibility, as has the White House, which said last week that members must reach a bipartisan deal on full-year appropriations bills for fiscal 2022 in the weeks ahead.

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed hope in a “Dear Colleague” letter on Sunday about chances lawmakers would reach a deal soon on spending.

“I am hopeful that we can reach an agreement soon so that the Committees can finalize their bills and we can consider a FY2022 Omnibus bill later this year,” Schumer said.
 
“However, it is likely that we will need to process a Continuing Resolution before December 3rd to give our Appropriators more time to finish their work,” he added.
Tags border wall funding Chuck Schumer Cynthia Lummis Donald Trump government funding Joe Biden Marco Rubio Mike Braun Mike Lee Richard Shelby Ted Cruz

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