The House Appropriations Committee has approved a 2019 budget that would fund another 200 miles of border barrier, plus small increases in the number of detention beds and ICE enforcement officers.
The July 19 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,” said a statement from Kansas Rep. Kevin Yoder, who chairs the Homeland Security panel of the House Appropriations Committee.
The bill is expected to pass the House but be blocked in the Senate, where the 49 Democrats can block any legislation until the GOP’s leadership meets some of their demands. So far, Senate Democrats have bitterly opposed President Donald Trump immigration programs and reforms, especially his plan to build a border wall.
The Senate bill, announced June 19, provides $1.6 billion to build only 65 miles of fencing in the Rio Grande Valley.
Democrats are also being pushed by their left to block funding for domestic enforcement of the immigration laws, even though the “Abolish ICE” goal is very unpopular.
The House bill includes $5.5 billion in an account for building the wall – but also for buying various boats and aircraft, so it is not clear how much can be spent on the wall.
In March, Congress approved $1.6 billion for border fencing in 2018 but added so many conditions and additional spending priorities that the bill actually funded only about 50 miles of new border fence.
The Senate bill for 2019 also denies Trump’s request for funding to keep 52,000 detention beds for illegal migrants and denies extra funds to hire 3,300 new ICE enforcement officers. Instead, it funds the 2018 level of 40,520 detention beds.
The House bill funds a small increase in detention beds — up to 44,000 — and allows for the hiring of just 400 new iCE officers.