WASHINGTON (AP) — House Republicans are moving next week to fund President Donald Trump’s $1.6 billion request to begin construction of his oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Aides said Tuesday evening that GOP leaders have decided to attach the money — to build 74 miles of fencing and levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas and near San Diego — to a spending bill for the Defense Department and a handful of other agencies like the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The wall money is strongly opposed by Democrats and some Republicans. But Trump is insistent on it and the GOP plan would give Trump a much-needed victory on Capitol Hill after the failure of the Trump-backed effort to repeal and replace the Obama health law.
Adding the wall money to the defense spending measure, which includes huge increases for the Pentagon, would appear to ensure its passage through the House, despite opposition among some border state Republicans, and could set up a clash with Senate Democrats.
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Trump has promised that Mexico would pay for the wall but hasn’t come up with a plan to force it to actually do so. Taxpayers will instead foot the bill.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced Tuesday that GOP leaders had abandoned a plan to bundle all 12 of the annual spending bills for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 into a single omnibus package. That appeared to be too much for rank-and-file Republicans to digest, so McCarthy instead announced that funding for the Pentagon, the VA and the Energy Department would be tied together in a smaller, national security-focused measure.
A McCarthy aide and a spokeswoman for Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., confirmed the plan to include the wall money in next week’s bill. But there probably won’t be an up-or-down vote on the funding.