With the clock ticking down toward a government shutdown on April 28, Republicans in Congress are discovering that they are going to have to make a choice between appropriating President Trump’s $1 billion request to fund the wall along our southern border and keeping the government operating.
Not only are Democrats unanimous in their opposition to the wall, but some Republicans — especially House members representing border communities — are voicing serious concerns about the wall’s cost as well as how it might affect our relations with Mexico.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the choice is pragmatic and the money will come later.
But the issue has become a political thorn in the side of GOP leaders who are facing pushback from Republicans voicing concerns over the diplomatic fallout, the disruption to local communities and the enormous cost of the project, estimated to be anywhere from $22 billion to $40 billion.
With Democrats united against new wall funding, it’s unlikely the Republicans have the votes to get it through and prevent a government shutdown.
Among the loudest GOP skeptics are those representing border districts. Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), for instance, hail from districts that span a combined 880 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. They’re pressing the administration to justify the huge costs.
“We recognize the need for robust border security and infrastructure to ensure public safety and increase cross border commerce,” the lawmakers wrote recently to top administration officials. “We also have an obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”
Grover Norquist, a conservative anti-tax crusader who has supported comprehensive immigration reform, told The Hill that payment for the wall has not been an issue in his discussions with allies on Capitol Hill.
And some Republicans are concerned that deteriorating relations with Mexico may be too high a price to pay for the wall.
In a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed concern to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly about a growing resentment in Mexico over the administration’s border policies.
“There is a lot of anti-American sentiment in Mexico. If the election were tomorrow in Mexico, you’d probably have a left-wing, anti-American president in Mexico. That can’t be good for America,” McCain said.
“It would not be good for America, or for Mexico,” Kelly conceded.
A homeland security secretary who doesn’t think the wall would be good for America? Hmmm.
As far as the possibility that a “left wing anti-American” would become president of Mexico, how would that be much different than what we’re dealing with now? President Nieto is no friend of the U.S. as far as I can tell, and the Mexican government is far enough left for just about anyone except a communist.
We’re either going to have border security or we won’t. I think there are other ways to achieve that goal, but Trump made the wall the major focus of his campaign for president. He was largely elected because of that promise. We shouldn’t care what Mexico thinks about it. It’s not their sovereignty being spit upon. When Mexico has to deal with millions of Americans entering their country illegally, they will then have the right to squawk.
Until then, they can collect their billions of dollars in remittances and keep quiet.