The Associated Press reports that some 2,200 of the military personnel sent to the border before the midterm elections may well be home for Christmas. If the move actually happens, that would leave some 3,000 active-duty troops in place, mostly in southern Texas, Arizona and California. The troops have been installing razor wire and providing transportation for border agents; that mission has been extended to the end of January,
The president sent them in response to the so-called caravan of Central American migrants en route to the border. But critics called the deployment a pre-election political stunt. Meanwhile, in Washington, a battle over the border is coming back into the spotlight.
John Bennett is a Washington correspondent for Roll Call. He says the president is tweeting that he wants Congress to approve $5 billion of the money needed to complete his border wall. The full amount required depends on which one of several cost estimates is used.
….People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
Bennett says the Senate has passed $1.6 billion for a border barrier.
“Aides to [Senate Minority Leader] Chuck Schumer and others will quickly call guys like me and say, ‘No, that’s for border fencing, not for a concrete and rebar wall,'” Bennett says.
He says Democratic House members meeting with the president Tuesday will offer $1.3 billion in border barrier wall funding.
The difference between the president’s request and the Democratic offer could lead to a partial government shutdown, if no compromise is reached. The shutdown would affect the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, which includes the Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and a number of other agencies, adding up to some 200,000 employees.
Bennett says Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican, believes the portion of the budget affecting border-barrier funding is the only item standing in the way of reaching a budget agreement.
Though DHS could face a shutdown just before the busy holiday travel season, Bennett says funding for national security-related functions is protected in the event of a shutdown.
“Essential employees will report to work,” he says. “So, listeners can rest assured that border patrol agents, the TSA folks at the airport … and other essential employees will be on duty.”
Written by Shelly Brisbin.