As a U.S. Senate committee continues debate on a comprehensive immigration bill, a House committee Wednesday tackled amendments to a more limited measure on border security. Of course, there's a fight over funding.
The House bill requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to develop a "comprehensive strategy to gain and maintain operational control" of the borders.
Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee say the bill is missing something important: funding. Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez of Anaheim said whatever border security plan is adopted, "We know we're going to need money to do that."
But lawmakers from both parties say they don't like the way the Department of Homeland Security is spending its budget. Homeland Security Committee chairman Mike McCaul of Texas said it's unwise to allocate funds before there's a plan. He added he doesn't want to "throw money" at this department on an ad hoc basis because, "Honestly, I don't trust them right now."
The funding amendment failed by one vote.
Democrats and Republicans found one thing on which to agree: it’s impossible to completely secure the U.S. borders.
An amendment by Republican Congressman Scott Perry from rural Pennsylvania would have required the Department of Homeland Security to cut illegal border crossings entirely — 100 percent. The freshman’s proposal was quickly shot down by both Democrats and Republicans.
McCaul was the last to pile on. He told Perry everyone wishes they could be perfect. "But when you’re talking about legislation and a definition in a bill that has real consequences, putting a 100 percent number in there makes it not only unachievable, but unrealistic and I believe less credible." One lawmaker suggested the last example of a really secure border was the Berlin Wall.
The freshman from Pennsylvania quietly agreed to withdraw his amendment.
The Senate immigration bill contains $3 billion in initial funding to secure the borders, and sets a benchmark a 90 percent effectiveness for border apprehensions.