- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The House is expected to approve nearly 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border today as part of a final effort by House Republicans to place major border-security legislation on President Bush’s desk before the November elections.

The Secure Fence Act, which is nearly identical to an amendment the House easily approved last year, would deploy cameras, ground sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor the border.

In addition, it would change current policy to give Border Patrol agents the authority to forcibly disable fleeing vehicles along the border.

“House Republicans believe we must address the immediate need to secure our borders,” said Rep. Peter T. King, the New York Republican who chairs the Homeland Security Committee and will introduce the bill today.

“The field hearings held by House Republicans over August demonstrated that the first priority of the American people is secure borders, whether it is providing additional fencing and infrastructure or more state-of-the-art technology and surveillance to strengthen border security.”

House Democrats dismissed the legislation as election-year politics.

“The Republicans are covering up for their failed record on border security,” said Jennifer Crider, spokeswoman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“They’re passing legislation that has already passed the House and has an uncertain future in the Senate.”

Indeed, the Senate has steadfastly opposed such border-security legislation unless it is twinned with provisions to grant a path to citizenship rights to some 10 million illegal aliens already in the country and a guest-worker program to admit more foreign laborers.

Two Senate Republicans yesterday wrote Majority Leader Bill Frist and urged him to abandon the wide-ranging Senate legislation. Sens. Jeff Sessions of Alabama and Wayne Allard of Colorado advised Mr. Frist to instead take up the border -ecurity measures proposed by the House “that a clear majority in both houses favor.”

Asked if administration officials would work to pass the House’s new border-fence bill, White House press secretary Tony Snow said they are still fighting for a broad bill.

“We are urging the House of Representatives and the United States Senate to work together to come up with comprehensive reform,” said Mr. Snow, referring to the guest-worker plan and citizenship rights that Mr. Bush supports.

Asked if Mr. Bush held out hope for an immigration bill, Mr. Snow said, “You know, we’ve got a very limited amount of time. You draw your own conclusions.”

House Republicans also plan to announce a slate of additional border-security proposals they plan to introduce in the coming days.

“Tomorrow’s vote represents the first step in that process, and a critical step towards shutting down the flow of illegal immigration into the United States,” Majority Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said yesterday.

c Stephen Dinan contributed to this report.



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