House Republicans are proposing to allocate $1.6 billion for the next fiscal year to fund "physical barrier construction" on the U.S.-Mexico border.
The provision, Republicans say, will provide the necessary resources for the Trump administration to begin building President Trump's promised border wall. The allocation is part of a $44.3 billion funding bill released Tuesday that would fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in fiscal 2018, which begins on Oct. 1.
"This funding 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 Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees DHS funding.
The committee claims that it meets the White House request for construction of the border wall next year. The funding will go toward things like "bollards and levee improvements," according to a summary of the bill.
Democrats, however, will almost certainly oppose the current version of the bill because of the physical barrier funding, which could lead to an impasse and possible government shutdown.
"Democrats will again draw a hard line against wasting taxpayer money to fulfill the President's campaign applause line," said Matthew Dennis, spokesman to Rep. Nita Lowey of New York, the top Democrat on the Appropriations panel. "The purpose of the Homeland Security bill is to make communities more safe and secure, and this pointless wall does nothing to accomplish that."
In May, President Trump signed a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending package that excluded funding for the wall and only offered funding for border security after Democrats opposed the wall plan. The president then suggested in a tweet that a government shutdown might be needed in September to change Senate rules so that he and Republicans could have full control over government spending and, as a result, fund the wall.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, quickly rejected the president's suggestion about changing the rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for such measures, and other Republicans on Capitol Hill agreed that a shutdown should be avoided. Spending packages must be bipartisan because Senate Republicans need Democratic votes to advance the legislation.
Last month, the president raised the idea of building a solar border wall to save money. Earlier this year, DHS reportedly estimated that the border wall would cost $21.6 billion, nearly twice the amount of previous estimates. But Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill calculated it would be three times as high -- nearly $67 billion. Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mexico would finance the wall, a proposal its president has rejected.