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Budget Cuts Agencies’ Reserve Funds to Block Border Wall Construction

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Article date: 
May 2, 2017
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National News
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The fine print in the bipartisan 2017 budget plan includes several paragraphs designed to prevent Donald Trump’s deputies from building a border wall with the reserve cash routinely stored in agency savings accounts.

That money-reducing language in the 2017 funding bill means wall construction is even further away from starting than it was last week, said Dan Horowitz, editor at Conservative Review. “This [bill] would make it effectively that you are worse off than you are before — Donald Trump is signing into law a bill that downright violates his promise“ to build a wall, Horowitz said.

The funding bill drafted by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer and top GOP leaders does not offer any new funding for the wall, despite Trump’s request for at least $1 billion to build 62 miles of barrier this year. Instead, the bill grabs back more than $300 million from accounts at the Department of Homeland Security, including a $187 million in cash seized from drug smugglers and other criminals. ...

The spending bill does offer $497 million for various construction programs, including “$341,200,000 to replace approximately 40 miles of existing primary pedestrian and vehicle border fencing.“ But it also says the money can’t be spent unless the agency develops a huge master plan within just 90 days that is approved by the undersecretary of management at the Department of Homeland Security.

But every “dollar is earmarked for a specific non-border wall purpose so there is no flexibility to reallocate funds,” said Robert Law, an advocate at the Federation for American Immigration Reform. ...