- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2017

House Republicans said Tuesday they’ve included $1.6 billion in funding for President Trump’s border wall in their new homeland security spending bill, setting up fight with Democrats who have vowed to block any wall funding — even if it means sending the government into a partial shutdown.

GOP leaders said the $1.6 billion fully meets Mr. Trump’s request to begin wall construction, which includes 32 miles of new border fencing in Texas, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley, also in Texas, and 14 miles of replacement fence in San Diego.

The bill also adds 500 new Border Patrol agents, 1,000 more agents and officers for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations in the interior, and provides enough money to maintain 44,000 detention beds. That’s a massive increase over the Obama years, and Trump officials said it will allow them to detain and deport illegal immigrants faster and with a higher success rate.

The GOP bill also calls for adding more than two dozen new jurisdictions to the 287(g) program which allows local police and sheriff’s deputies to be trained to enforce immigration laws.

“Keeping Americans safe by protecting our homeland is a top priority,” said Rep. John Carter, Texas Republican and chairman of the House homeland security appropriations subcommittee. “This funding bill provides the resources to begin building a wall along our southern border, enhance our existing border security infrastructure, hire more border patrol agents, and fund detention operations.”

Mr. Trump has not said how much of the 1,954-mile border he would like to see covered by fencing, but his 2018 budget called for a first down payment in the 60 miles of new barriers.

Democrats have vowed to resist the spending.

“Democrats will again draw a hard line against wasting taxpayer money to fulfill the president’s campaign applause line,” said Matthew Dennis, a spokesman for Appropriations Committee Democrats. “The purpose of the Homeland Security bill is to make communities more safe and secure, and this pointless wall does nothing to accomplish that.”

They succeeded this year, forcing Mr. Trump to back down on his call for $1 billion to be invested in barriers in 2017.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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