Border wall still looms large in FY19 funding talks

8 prototypes of the border walls as tweeted by CBP San Diego 

President Donald Trump told the audience at a White House event convened to honor border security agents that he is looking for $5 billion in the coming year to keep building a wall along the southern border.

The $5 billion figure is in line with a Homeland Security appropriations subcommittee fiscal 2019 funding measure introduced in July that would provide $5 billion for physical barriers and associated technology along the U.S. southern border -- which the committee said amounts to about 200 miles of new physical barrier construction.

However, the Senate appears intent on moving a bill that includes just $1.6 billion for the wall project, and with the caveat that the money go to shoring up existing barriers.

House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters on July 26 that Republicans were looking to look at ramping up wall funding after getting appropriations bills passed, and that Trump was on board with that strategy.

"As far as wall funding is concerned," Ryan said, "It's not a question of if, it's a question of when and the president is willing to be patient so we can get that done because it is really important.”

However, just days later, Trump tweeted that he'd support a government shutdown "if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall!!"

On July 31, Trump tweeted , "I don't care what the political ramifications are, our immigration laws and border security have been a complete and total disaster for decades, and there is no way that the Democrats will allow it to be fixed without a Government Shutdown."

Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who spoke on a panel at the Aug. 20 event, said the situation wasn't so dire. The wall funding issue isn't "a debate between zero dollars and $25 billion… it's really between $2 billion and $5 billion," he said. "I'm optimistic we'll get it done for him."

Time is running out for an appropriations package or continuing resolution to keep the government open when fiscal year 2019 opens on Oct. 1. The House has just 11 legislative days left. The Senate has a bit more time because Republican leaders cancelled much of the August recess to work on funding bills and prepare for a Supreme Court confirmation battle.

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on Aug. 19 that he didn't expect a lapse in appropriations.

"All signs are good that we're going to actually get some spending bills passed before the end of the fiscal year," Mulvaney said on Fox News Sunday.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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