WASHINGTON (CN) – The Trump administration is one step closer to building a security wall along the U.S.-Mexico border after the House Appropriations Committee released a bill allocating $1.6 billion for its construction.
The bill, unveiled July 11, divvies up a total of $13.8 billion, allocating $1.6 billion for the wall, $131 million for new border surveillance technology, $109 million for “non-intrusive inspection” equipment, $106 million for aircraft and sensors and $100 million for 500 additional border patrol agents.
What the bill did not include was a delivery on President Donald Trump’s campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall. Allocations for the budget will come from U.S. tax payer dollars instead.
The Department of Homeland Security reports that the $1.6 billion request covers 74 miles of construction or 32 miles of barrier wall, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley and 14 miles for secondary fencing replacements near San Diego.
In addition to the 500 new border patrol agents, the budget also secures funding for Immigration and Customs Enforcement who are expected to hire some 1,600 employees with the windfall.
House Republicans will likely be able to pass the bill with ease but the legislation might find some resistance if it moves to the Senate. There, the GOP will need the support of at least eight democrats to make the bill a reality.
Getting that support won’t be easy.
Democratic Senators Chuck Schumer of New York, Patty Murray of Washington, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan have written a letter to the appropriations committee outlining their opposition to the plan.
“Finally, we are once again concerned with the President’s fiscal year 2018 request for a very expensive, ineffective new wall along the southern border with Mexico and new funding for the Department of Homeland Security to hire a “deportation force” and increase detention beds,” the senators wrote.
Funding for the government expires on September 30 and in their brief letter to the committee, the senators reiterated their position that they “must complete all of the 12 appropriations bills, not just a select few” to avoid a shutdown. (Emphasis original.)
On Monday, House Freedom Caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows, R.-N.C., told Breitbart News that if the bill isn’t funded then a shutdown is “imminent.”
Meadows said that his conversations with the president had led him “to believe that there is nothing less than a full and total commitment on his party to only sign into law a funding bill that actually allows for us to start construction of a border wall on our southern border.”
Meadows added that he sometimes thinks congressional leadership places their partisan convictions on the wall issue above the wishes of their constituents.
“I think that sometimes our leadership has to understand where the American people are, so regardless of where their personal conviction may be on this I think they understand in order to get 218 votes and 60 votes in the Senate it’s going to have to include border wall funding and if not we’re going to be looking at a continuing resolution and finding other ways to do emergency funding for the border wall,’ Meadow said.
But, according to a joint survey from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research in April, 58 percent of Americans polled oppose new spending on the wall, with just 28 percent supporting it. The April poll also indicated that 86 percent of Democrats oppose the wall along with 57 percent of independents.