The House has finally managed to pass a spending package for 2018 – and it includes $1.6 billion for Trump’s promised border wall.
The $1.6 billion, which matches Trump’s full request for border wall funding in FY2018, would be used to replace 14 miles of fencing near San Diego and to construct some 60 miles of new wall in the Rio Grande Valley.
The House spending package, which totals $788 billion, is a group of bills that includes money for homeland security, national defense, energy, water, veterans’ affairs, and military construction.
GOP leaders had hoped to pass a broader package that included all 12 measures, but after pushback from rank-and-file members created a smaller bill focused on defense and veterans programs.
“The four-bill package is carefully crafted to fund our critical military priorities, reinforce our nuclear deterrents, support veterans, and make our borders more secure and strengthen protections for our constituents and for members,” explains House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ).
Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert (R) believes the wall will help “stop the flow of drugs” into the US. “The best thing we can do as a good neighbor to Mexico is build that wall where it is needed,” he said.
Democrats worry the wall will be a waste of money. “Not only is it costly and useless, it will do more to divide America than keep us safe,” complains Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL).
There is little chance the House package will make it through the Senate, but elements from it could make their way into the final spending bill.
Senate Democrats have vowed not to vote for anything that includes funding for the border wall. If Senate Republicans attempt to force border wall funding into the final budget we could see a government shutdown in the fall.
In the meantime, the two chambers are expected to pass short-term legislation as part of a larger agreement between Republicans and Democrats to undo federal budget caps on both domestic and military spending. As it stands the House security package exceeds the sequester spending limit by $72 billion.
Still at issue are the spending bills passed each year that keep federal agencies up and running.
Trump is pushing to increase Pentagon funding while making sweeping cuts of more than $50 billion to foreign aid and domestic agencies.
House Republicans have scaled back Trump’s cuts to domestic programs like medical research and community development grants, but have added even more money for defense.
Editor’s note: The Freedom Caucus has vowed to block any budget bill that does not contain funding for the wall. Here it is, it is not getting stripped out.