House Republicans Fight Defense-Bill Provisions Preventing Pentagon Funds from Being Used on Border Wall

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection border-patrol agent talks to people on the Mexican side of the border wall in San Diego, Calif., November 28, 2018. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

A group of House conservatives on Thursday urged Congress to scrap provisions in the annual defense-appropriations bill that would block Defense Department funds from going toward President Trump’s southern border wall.

“Military construction funds may not be obligated, expended, or otherwise used to design or carry out a project to construct, replace, or modify a wall, fence, or other physical barrier along the international border between the United States and Mexico,” the bill reads.

The group of conservative members of Congress, some representing border states, signed a letter to the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees objecting to the provisions, which they called “unacceptable.”

“The urgency to build a border wall cannot be overstated,” wrote the group. “There is a real emergency at our southern border. Our Border Patrol agents are being overrun, and our ranchers are discouraged with the inaction coming from Washington, D.C. Securing the border is necessary if we are to stop the onslaught of drug and human trafficking, and terrorists on the border.”

“It will help deter the drug cartels and tens of thousands of people who risk their lives attempting to cross our border illegally,” the letter added. “The American people understand that failure to control our border poses a national security threat. We hope you understand the severity of this crisis and urge that these provisions are stripped from the final conference report.”

The Trump administration has recently begun building a 30-foot border wall in Arizona, the first new border barrier constructed on federal land using Defense Department funds after Trump declared the situation at the border a national emergency.

Signing the letter were Representatives Bradley Byrne of Alabama, Paul Gosar, David Schweikert, and Andy Biggs of Arizona, Greg Steube and Matt Gaetz of Florida, Jody Hice and Barry Loudermilk of Georgia, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jeff Duncan and Ralph Norman of South Carolina, and Randy Weber, Ron Wright, Michael Cloud, and Chip Roy of Texas.

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