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House Republicans Give Trump $1.6B in Wall Funding Before Break


House Speaker Paul Ryan leaves after his final weekly press conference before the House of Representatives is scheduled to begin its summer recess on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 27, 2017.

The U.S. House of Representatives closed its summer session with a key legislative accomplishment Friday that included a gift for President Donald Trump.

House Republicans included a $1.6 billion request to build part of Trumps promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border in a “mini-bus” package of bills.

“We must be vigilant in protecting our homeland. That’s our priority. This legislation funds the most critical functions of government. It secures our borders by providing funding for a wall on our southern border,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement Thursday hailing the passage of border wall funding.

“There’s some frustration on the part of some Republicans that they haven’t been getting things done this year,” Molly Reynolds, a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, told VOA. “So they see this security mini-bus as a way to show they have gotten something done on things that are broadly popular – funding the military and veteran’s programs.”

Uphill battle in Senate

But the border wall request faces a tough road ahead in the U.S. Senate as the political atmosphere in Washington grows even more charged following the last minute failure of Republican attempts to pass a health care bill.

FILE - People pass graffiti along an existing border structure in Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 25, 2017. One U.S. lawmaker, opposed to the wall, quipped "We need a modern, functioning, immigration system. Not a wall.”
FILE - People pass graffiti along an existing border structure in Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 25, 2017. One U.S. lawmaker, opposed to the wall, quipped "We need a modern, functioning, immigration system. Not a wall.”

The wall money, added to a spending measure for the U.S. Defense Department, faces opposition by all Democrats in the Senate and some Republicans.

Democratic Senators are expected to object to the border wall funding, possibly triggering a government shutdown by rejecting the spending bill in its current form

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer called the vote “a legislative gimmick” Tuesday because the mini-bus packaging prevented separate debate on funding for the border wall.

Though the defense appropriations bill includes numerous security spending measures, Democrats said Republicans saw it as an opportunity to add Trump’s demands to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Representative Pete Aguilar, a California Democrat, said the $1.6 billion should be used to “take care of our veterans and to honor our commitment for necessary defense programs.”

Representative Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat, said the money was “snuck into the appropriation bill so they can make people happy, but not make them any safer.”

“What you need is modern solutions to modern problems," he said. "We need a modern, functioning, immigration system. Not a wall.”

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    Katherine Gypson

    Katherine Gypson is a reporter for VOA’s News Center in Washington, D.C.  Prior to joining VOA in 2013, Katherine produced documentary and public affairs programming in Afghanistan, Tunisia and Turkey. She also produced and co-wrote a 12-episode road-trip series for Pakistani television exploring the United States during the 2012 presidential election. She holds a Master’s degree in Journalism from American University. Follow her @kgyp

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