US Republican senators are struggling to save $2 billion in funding for the construction of former President Donald Trump’s controversial wall on the US-Mexico border in an effort to keep South American immigrants away from the United States.
Democrats in the upper chamber are pushing forward with plans to rescind the funding for Trump’s signature project, but Republicans are pressing for the funding already allocated toward the barrier's construction, the Washington-based The Hill newspaper reported on Saturday.
Earlier this month, a group of Republican senators, Mike Braun (Ind.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), expressed their commitment in a letter not to back the annual appropriations legislation to fund the government if funds for the wall are not set aside.
However, a number of Republicans are not supporting the controversial project. Senator Richard Shelby (Ala.), top-ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, backed the project but called on other GOP supporters of the project not to withhold support from a bipartisan deal, a move that could jeopardize funding for other significant Republican-backed priorities, including military operations and national security.
“I wouldn't hold up, if we reach an agreement on everything else, and, including defense, security, the nation, everything, I wouldn't hold that whole [appropriations] bill and punish the military,” Shelby said.
Shelby said he’s long supported the border wall and said funding for the project is “important," but added that “funding the Navy, the Army and Air Force Intelligence, all of that, is a top priority to the nation.”
US President Joe Biden has condemned Trump's hardline immigration policies, including his plan of construction of the border wall between the US and Mexico.
However, a review of government resources going into the project instated by Biden at the start of his presidency has been delayed. The Department of Justice said it would not end court.
According to documents and interviews conducted by Politico, the Biden administration did not withdraw or dismiss the case in Hidalgo County.
“DOJ sought continuances in pending cases, including in this case, in which the government had previously filed motions for possession of land on the southwest border in light of President Biden’s proclamation terminating the national emergency at the southern border of the United States and directing ‘a careful review of all resources appropriated or redirected to construct a southern border wall,’” a DOJ official told the outlet.
President Biden stopped some funds related to constructing the wall, and later overturned the emergency order that Trump used to justify constructing the wall.
However, Biden has also been considering the resumption of the construction of the project despite the fact that it could prove extremely difficult as much of the border terrain is rugged, hilly terrain while other areas are controlled by private landowners.
Critics have denounced the Biden administration for unraveling strict border protections put in place by Trump, including measures that kept migrants in Mexico while they waited for their cases to be processed.
Last month, Senate Democrats outlined spending plans to rescind $1.9 billion in past border barrier funds allocated by Congress in previous years.
Senate Democrats detailed plans to use the wall funding to be repurposed for border security technology, including IT modernization efforts, expanding train capacity for CBP personnel and the creation of three multi-purpose facilities aimed at improving the processing of noncitizens.
Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said many in his party care “about border security” but just “think that wall is feckless and ineffective.”
“We think there are other better ways to secure our border,” Murphy said. “So, if Republicans want to shut down the government over a border wall, that's their choice. But we got elected based on our promise to be more thoughtful about border security, and I feel like we have to make good on that promise.”
Republicans have attacked the Biden administration for ending funding for an effort they argue has been effective in cracking down on illegal drug activities, border crossings and other crimes in certain areas where the barriers have gone up.
“I think many of the Republicans are concerned about the absolute chaos and disaster at the southern border,” Cruz told reporters when asked about his letter recently.
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