(CNSNews.com) – The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill supported by President Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell provides almost $1.6 billion for “fencing” and “levees” on the Southwest Border.
But the bill is very specific on how the money must be spent in the next six months, ruling out any concrete barriers such as the prototypes Trump visited in California on March 13.
"The amounts designated...shall only be available for operationally effective designs deployed as of the date of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017...such as currently deployed steel bollard designs that prioritize agent safety," it says.
Yet, President Trump tweeted on Thursday morning: "Got $1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border, rest will be forthcoming."
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Thursday the $1.6 billion in border funding is exactly what the Trump administration requested for the current fiscal year -- the six months that remain of it.
"The administration asked for 74 miles of border funding, border wall funding. We did about a hundred in this bill, so we exceeded what the administration asked us for," Ryan said.
Ryan said the Border Patrol told Congress it wanted different types of walls in different places -- levees in the Rio Grande Valley and see-through fences in the desert. "We do that," Ryan told "Fox & Friends." "So we basically say to the Border Patrol, what do you need? Here's your resources. And it's $1.6 billion for the next six months, so it's exactly what the president asked for."
Although the omnibus will not allow Trump to start building the kind of wall he promised during his campaign, it does provide $38,000,000 for border barrier planning and design, but there are lots of strings attached.
Pages 673-678 of the omnibus bill deal with border "fencing," saying $1,571,000,000 shall be available only as follows (emphasis added):
(1) $251,000,000 for approximately 14 miles of secondary fencing, all of which provides for cross-barrier visual situational awareness, along the southwest border in the San Diego Sector; (It has to be see-through, not concrete, in other words.)
(2) $445,000,000 for 25 miles of primary pedestrian levee fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;
(3) $196,000,000 for primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;
(4) $445,000,000 for replacement of existing primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border;
(5) $38,000,000 for border barrier planning and design; and
(6) $196,000,000 for acquisition and deployment of border security technology.
(b) The amounts designated...shall only be available for operationally effective designs deployed as of the date of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017...such as currently deployed steel bollard designs that prioritize agent safety.
(c) None of the funds provided in this or any other Act shall be obligated for construction of a border barrier in the Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
The bill gives the Trump administration 180 days to submit to Congress "a risk-based plan for improving security along the borders of the United States, including the use of personnel, fencing, other forms of tactical infrastructure, and technology."
The risk-based plan must include "a statement of goals, objectives, activities, and milestones for the plan" as well as a "detailed implementation schedule."
And there are many other strings attached:
The Trump administration must describe how the plan will enhance border security goals; it must identify where the physical barriers will go up, describe the methodology used to select the barriers; analyze alternatives; assess the effects on communities and property owners near the planned wall; describe "other factors" critical to the decision making process; identify staffing requirements under the plan; consult state and local officials on eminent domain; analyze environmental impacts; certify that the plan complies with Federal acquisition rules, requirements, guidelines, and practices; and those are just some of the restrictions.