Columns

McCarthy Predicts 'About 200 Miles' of Border Wall 'at the End of the Day'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) joins supporters of President Donald Trump and family members of Americans killed by undocumented immigrants at the Capitol in Washington on Feb. 13, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said today that “at the end of the day, this wall is going to be built, not sea to shining sea, but about 200 miles.”

McCarthy told Fox that he believes President Trump does have the authority to declare a national emergency to raid other funds, such as the military construction budget, to make up for what Congress didn’t fund in the appropriations agreement.

“In 2005 in Arizona, Janet Napolitano, who then became DHS secretary for Obama, declared an emergency because of what was happening on the border. So did New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. And Bill Richardson cited the lack of movement by the federal government,” he said. “So the president, one, has the authority. Yes, it is a crisis and emergency along our border… it is an emergency that has been shown before.”

Fifty-five miles of border fencing, not including any concrete wall, was funded in the appropriations deal.

McCarthy said he voted for the $1.375 billion in fencing, instead of the $5.7 billion Trump wanted for a wall, because “it was a down payment moving forward.”

“If I’m weighing that compared to a continuing resolution, which wouldn’t get any, of course, this is moving it in the right direction. Is it as far as I want it to go? No. But the combination of this bill and the action, what the president is doing, we’re getting to the end result that we need to protect the southern end of our border,” he said.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) argued on CNN this morning that “this is the first kind of emergency we have seen like this that a president has done this… with that kind of construct, where he got turned down by Congress and then went ahead and did it.”

“That’s why you see so many Republicans saying, don’t do this. Republicans are afraid that he’s going to take the money from somewhere else and something they care about, but, fundamentally, they think it’s a president who failed, who hates to lose, who is acting childish, and is violating the Constitution,” Brown said. “Republican after Republican is telling us that privately. We will have a vote on this likely in the next two or three weeks. See if those Republicans show the backbone that they generally haven’t shown standing up to this president in the past.”

“But this is more serious, because it’s a constitutional question,” he added. “So I take them at their word that they will stand up to him.”

Brown was asked about former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) saying that he would take down barriers around his hometown of El Paso because it hasn’t influenced border safety.

“I don’t think you look at the border wall in a 12-mile area. I take a back seat to nobody in border security, and it’s clear we have learned over time that we have the technology, helicopters, border agents, to make our country safe and to keep illegal crossings at a minimum without building a long wall,” the senator replied. “That’s a decision that should be made in the whole context. You don’t say, well, this congressman says take it down here, this congressman says build it up there. You really want to look more broadly than that.”