January 15, 2019

In case you missed it, Senator Jon Tester's speech last week about the border wall and appropriations Trump already has to spend on border security? It's worth watching and forwarding on to your Republican family and friends:


The president's demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall is tall on hyperbole and wide on theatrics, but short on facts. The president said that Congress has refused to provide the resources needed to secure the border. That is not true.

In fiscal year 2018, Congress gave the president $1.3 billion to construct fencing and other fixed structures along the southern border. I know so, because I worked side by side with my Republican colleagues to write that bill.

Today, not one of those projects is under construction. Not one.

Strong border security is much more than physical barriers. Congress appropriated $21 billion for immigration enforcement in last year's homeland security appropriations act. That includes money to expand manpower, and utilize communication services and resources, on top of funding for physical barriers.

Here's another fact. Narcotics like meth and cocaine and opioids are not coming over the border in backpacks. They are coming through the ports in cars and trucks. We have the technology to fix that. So let's appropriate the money towards real solutions at our ports to stop the drugs from entering our country, not the $5.7 billion for a wall. So again, let's stick to the facts.

Despite having more than $21 billion in border security and immigration enforcement funding, including funds for physical barriers, the president has shut down the government to demand another $5.7 billion exclusively for a wall. One would think to ask, what would you possibly spend $5.7 billion on? Especially after already having $21 billion to spend on border security and immigration enforcement.

And we did ask him that. We asked him for a plan.

We told the president and Homeland Security Secretary Nielsen if they're going to break the promise to have Mexico pay for the wall and use American taxpayer dollars, they ought to produce a plan of action.

The plan that we received in late December was incomplete.

No analysis of alternative technologies, no analysis on the impact of communities to landowners, to wildlife, and that plan only asked for $1.6 billion, not the $5.7 billion that the president is now demanding.

The president has also failed to address private property rights and eminent domain. What is he going to do if a family refuses to sell off wide tracks of their farm or ranch to allow a wall to go through and split their ranch, divide their ranch? Are families going to concede their water and mineral rights? Is the administration prepared to enter into good faith negotiations with literally thousands of families, and do we know how much that is going to cost the American taxpayer?

These questions need answers. Yet with these questions still unanswered there are folks in this body, the United States Senate, who are prepared to write a $5.07 billion check to the president right now.

So here we are. On day 19 of the president's shutdown. During the president's speech last night he was right about one thing. There is a crisis taking shape in our country. But it is not the crisis on the southern border that he's trying to manufacture. As a result of the president's shutdown, there are 19,000 border agents to date who are working without pay.

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