House Republicans Vote 109-87 Against Funding Bill That Allows Only 55 Miles of ‘Pedestrian Fencing’ Staff | February 15, 2019 | 9:06am EST
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Getty Images/Alex Wong)

( - Republicans in the House of Representatives voted 109 to 87 not to approve an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security and eight other federal agencies that only provides $1.375 billion for “pedestrian fencing” along the U.S.-Mexico border in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

That is estimated to be enough to build 55 miles of fencing. (N.B. The New York Times reports that it "provides money for 55 miles of steel-post fencing' and the Washington Post that it "provides $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new fencing along the border in Texas.")

The full House vote count was 300 for the bill, 128 against, with 4 members not voting.

The bill passed in the Senate 83 to 16 with one member not voting. Eleven of the 16 senators voting against the deal were Republicans, including Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Rand Paul (Kentucky), and Sen. Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma).

The bill specifically restricted the types of “fencing” along the border that can be built with the $1.375 billion.

Additionally, the bill named five areas along the Texas border where no fencing could be built (including a wildlife refuge and a butterfly center) and said that fencing could not be built in five Texas cities along the border until the Department of Homeland Security and elected officials in those cities “reach mutual agreement regarding the design and alignment of physical barriers within that city.”

The White House has indicated that President Trump will sign the bill and declare a national emergency to allow him to repurpose other federal moneys for use in building barriers at the border.

Here is the text of the section of the spending bill that provides $1.375 billion for border fencing and places restrictions on the design and location of that fencing:

Sec. 230. (a) Of the total amount made available under ``U.S. Customs and Border Protection--Procurement, Construction, and Improvements'', $2,370,222,000 shall be available only as follows:

(1) $1,375,000,000 is for the construction of primary

pedestrian fencing, including levee pedestrian fencing, in the Rio

Grande Valley Sector;

(2) $725,000,000 is for the acquisition and deployment of

border security technologies and trade and travel assets and

infrastructure, to include $570,000,000 for non-intrusive

inspection equipment at ports of entry; and

(3) $270,222,000 is for construction and facility improvements,

to include $222,000,000 for humanitarian needs, $14,775,000 for

Office of Field Operations facilities, and $33,447,000 for Border

Patrol station facility improvements.

(b) The amounts designated in subsection (a)(1) shall only be

available for operationally effective designs deployed as of the date

of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (Public Law 115-31), such

as currently deployed steel bollard designs, that prioritize agent


(c) Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this

Act, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall submit to the Committee

on Appropriations of the Senate, the Committee on Appropriations of the

House of Representatives, and the Comptroller General of the United

States an updated risk-based plan for improving security along the

borders of the United States that includes the elements required under

subsection (a) of section 231 of division F of the Consolidated

Appropriations Act, 2018 (Public Law 115-141), which shall be evaluated

in accordance with subsection (b) of such section.

Sec. 231. None of the funds made available by this Act or prior

Acts are available for the construction of pedestrian fencing--

(1) within the Santa Ana Wildlife Refuge;

(2) within the Bentsen-Rio Grande Valley State Park;

(3) within La Lomita Historical park;

(4) within the National Butterfly Center; or

(5) within or east of the Vista del Mar Ranch tract of the

Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

Sec. 232. (a) Prior to use of any funds made available by this Act

for the construction of physical barriers within the city limits of any

city or census designated place described in subsection (c), the

Department of Homeland Security and the local elected officials of such

a city or census designated place shall confer and seek to reach mutual

agreement regarding the design and alignment of physical barriers

within that city or the census designated place (as the case may be).

Such consultations shall continue until September 30, 2019 (or until

agreement is reached, if earlier) and may be extended beyond that date

by agreement of the parties, and no funds made available in this Act

shall be used for such construction while consultations are continuing.

(b) Not later than July 1, 2019, the Secretary shall issue notices

for public comment regarding construction of pedestrian fencing in the

places identified in subsection (c). The notices shall afford the

public not less than 60 days to submit comments on the location of

proposed fencing in the affected areas. Not later than 90 days

following the end of the comment period identified in this subsection,

the Department shall publish in the Federal Register its responses to

the comments received along with its plans for construction in the

areas identified in the notice to which it is responding.

(c) The cities and census designated place described in this

subsection are as follows:

(1) Roma, Texas.

(2) Rio Grande City, Texas.

(3) Escobares, Texas.

(4) La Grulla, Texas.

(5) The census designated place of Salineno, Texas.




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