Barrasso recommends using leftover COVID-19 funds to complete border wall in new amendment

The new amendment would create a "Southern Border Wall Construction Fund," which directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use the unspent COVID funds to complete the project.

Published: May 21, 2024 5:08pm

Senate Republican Chairman John Barrasso on Tuesday recommended using leftover federal funding from the COVID-19 pandemic to fund a border wall along the southern border in an amendment in the Senate's latest border bill.

Former President Donald Trump began construction on the border wall during his presidency, but the miles-long project was not completed by the time he left office. However, finishing the construction of the wall has regained popularity amid the country's immigration crisis. 

The amendment would be part of a larger Democrat-backed Senate bill that is expected to return to the Senate floor later this week. The Senate failed to pass the large border bill earlier because of Republican holdouts who claimed the proposed package would make the border crisis even worse.

But the new amendment could sway some Republicans, and would create a "Southern Border Wall Construction Fund," which directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to use the unspent COVID funds to complete the project, according to Fox News.

"Border walls work. Before President Biden came into office, we were well on our way to a secure and safe southern border," Barrasso told the outlet. "But on his first day in office, the president and Democrats rolled out the welcome mat for millions of illegal immigrants to come into our nation ... We must hold Democrats accountable for their open border policies that have created the worst border crisis in our nation’s history. If they are serious about securing our border, they should have no issues voting for a policy that actually works and is already paid for."

The proposal comes after the Treasury Department changed the guidelines for the unspent federal funds in March, claiming that "qualifying recipients can use remaining funds on a broad range of uses to fund affordable housing serving very low-income families." The funds were allocated under President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan.

Senate Republicans remain critical of the border legislation, claiming that it does not go far enough to fix the country's immigration issues. The bill included a mandate that the border shuts down if illegal immigration reaches more than 5,000 border crossings over a five-day average. 

The senators instead have backed House Resolution 2, titled "Secure the Border Act of 2023," which includes finishing the border wall, and changing asylum standards. 

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