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West Virginia, Montana, Arizona Debate Using State Money to Help Build Border Wall

Republicans in four state legislatures are offering support to President Trump as he tries to get House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to support $5.7 billion in federal funding to build a border barrier where the U.S. and Mexico meet.

Three of the state proposals include millions of dollars to help Trump block the border with a barrier or a wall. The fourth offers moral support.

Montana Senate President Scott Sales (R) wants to give President Trump $8 million in state money to help construct a wall along the southern U.S. border.

Sales admitted sending $8 million to a $5.7 billion project is “a very small contribution,” and more “symbolic” than anything else. Still, Sales said, “Border security should be something that's on the forefront of all legislatures whether they're state or federal.”

"Even a state like Montana, with a small population and being a long ways from the southern border, we'd be remiss to think there aren't impacts to the state by illegal immigration,” Sales told CNN.

House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner doesn’t like Sales’ proposals. The Democrat said Montana can’t afford to send $8 million out of state.

“State dollars are a finite resource; we had draconian cuts for human services (during the 2017 special session),” Schreiner told MTN News. “Yet we’re going to send money out-of-state for some unknown reason. It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Sales submitted two bills just after the Montana Legislature began its 2019 session. The first is a resolution that expresses support for construction of the border wall. The second is a spending bill for the $8 million border wall allocation.

“It’s a sincere effort. This isn’t something I’m doing on a whim to try to garner a headline. I’ve supported this concept (and) I think a lot of Americans voted for President Trump, and Montanans, on this one concept alone,” Sales told MTN.

Resolutions are always non-binding. Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock won’t have much to say about it. But Bullock could stop the other bill, the one for $8 million.

“If the governor just wants to veto it, out of hand, that’s his prerogative,” Sales said. “But he has ideas that he thinks are of state importance, and I happen to think this does, too.”

West Virginia Del. Carl Martin filed a bill that calls for sending $10 million in state funds to the border wall construction project.

“We have been in contact with multiple law enforcement officers and judges about the drug epidemic, and every single one has told us 90 percent of the drugs coming to our state are coming in from Mexico,” said Martin.

Del. Caleb Hanna, who co-sponsored the bill, along with Carl Martin’s brother, Del. Patrick Martin, said sending money to Washington for President Trump’s wall shouldn’t be any different than ordering Montana’s National Guard into action along the U.S.-Mexico border.