WASHINGTON - 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.
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.”