House Approves Spending Bill with $1.6 Billion to Start Trump’s Border Wall

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, July 27, 2017

The House approved $1.6 billion Thursday to fund the first installment of President Trump’s border wall, surmounting Democrats’ unanimous opposition and giving the White House a significant though potentially short-lived victory.

The money was attached to a massive security spending bill designed to fund the Pentagon and veterans’ needs, but the legislation now heads to the Senate, where Democrats have signaled that they will resist any money for the border wall. If they mount a filibuster, it would once again leave Mr. Trump and fellow Republicans facing the choice of removing money for the wall or careening into a shutdown showdown.

Funding for the border wall was added to the bill in a 230-196 vote. Five Republicans defected to join all Democrats in opposition. The broader security package then cleared on a 235-192 vote.

“Every single dime the president requested to start building a wall on our southern border, he’s going to get,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican.

The money would cover 32 more miles of border fence in Texas, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley, also in Texas, and 14 miles of replacement fence in San Diego.

Republican leaders added the money into the bill hoping Democrats would be willing to swallow it as part of a broader security package. But Republicans refused to allow a vote specifically on the wall and instead used an arcane process to add the money to the bill through an amendment to the rules governing the floor debate.

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Some 352 miles of the border already have fencing, and another 300 miles have barriers that can deter vehicles but still allow foot traffic.

Mr. Trump has given conflicting signals about how much of the border he thinks will need fencing, though he told reporters this month that perhaps only 700 miles will need a wall.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, though, has ruled out fencing along 130 miles of the 1,954-mile-long border. Those areas have enough natural barriers that traversing them is deemed too difficult to need enhancements.

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According to documents issued in the spring, contracting officials were hoping for a 50-foot wall that could withstand breaching attempts for up to four hours.

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