In a previous column, I suggested what the U.S. House of Representatives, under Republican control, could do to deal with the border crisis.
The House is scheduled be back in session on September 12. Will the Republicans actually do anything about the border ?
Scott McFarlane of CBS reported this week that some noise is being made about this topic.
If some sort of spending bill, such as a continuing resolution, is not passed by October 1, there could be a partial government shutdown. And so, writes McFarlane, “Twenty-six days before the deadline to avert an impasse that threatens government operations and a jolt to the U.S. economy, an expanded southern border wall appears to be a towering obstacle. Even before it is built.”
Here’s what is possibly on the table:
“The first order of business appears to be a $62 billion plan to fund the Department of Homeland Security, a debate that is scheduled to begin in the House Rules Committee one day after the nation holds services to mourn the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.”
So what is in this bill?
“The House bill includes a number of contentious items, ranging from reductions in funding for government diversity programs to reductions in humanitarian and climate programs. But perhaps the biggest and most paralyzing source of contention is a multi-billion dollar investment in expanding a wall at the southern border.”
“House Republicans have championed expansion of the border wall for several years, echoing a campaign pillar of former President Donald Trump. The House Republican bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, which could reach the House floor by mid-September, would allocate $2.104 billion to build and expand a southern border barrier.”
Rep. Chip Roy (TX-21) explains to CBS why it is needed: "It's massively important. We need to do it. We paid for it. There are parts (of the wall) that are rusting… We've been paying people not to build it. It's completely absurd. You do need a border infrastructure."
On the other hand, Roy’s Democratic colleague Rep. David Trone (MD-6) does not agree: "A wall is a sixth century solution. It's just a horrible, horrible bill. Republicans are villainizing immigrants with their bigotry by saying they're bringing fentanyl over the border."
Walls are much older than the sixth century, but they are still good solutions if managed properly.
The problem is, until at least January of 2025, the wall is under the control of the Biden administration. The goal of the Biden administration is to let in millions of foreigners, which they can do with or without a wall.
The bill also includes funding to hire more Border Patrol agents. The problem is that Border Patrol follows the orders from the executive branch. So if we’re dealing with Biden, more Border Patrol agents will just be doing the bidding of his administration. That means we can’t count on Border Patrol to secure the border.
House Republicans ought to be attacking the problem from other angles in addition to the wall – the abuse of parole, refugee/asylum policies, and catch-and-release. If these aren’t fixed, even a good wall, in and of itself, is not going to secure the border.
We have to face reality.
The GOP only controls the House and not the Senate, so passing a good border bill is hard.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration controls the executive branch, so it can get what it wants by just refusing to enforce the law like it has been doing.
But that doesn’t mean House GOP leadership can’t fight for the border.
If Speaker Kevin McCarthy and company really care about the border crisis, they should make it their top priority and be public about it. They should play hardball, using the budget process to fight for a secure border.
If they don’t, it will be clear Republican leadership doesn't take the border seriously.
You can find more of Allan Wall's work at his website.