- Biden's $14 billion border request lacks border security funding
- The funds primarily focus on transporting, processing, and providing support for migrants along the Southwest border, as well as hiring additional personnel for immigration and customs operations
- Excludes provisions for a border wall or enhanced security measures
Recently, the Biden administration renewed its request for emergency supplemental funding for border management. We were shocked that the $13.6 billion supplemental has no money for border security. Zero.
But more on the border later. Washington is so broken that even an aid package to Israel barely squeaked through the House on Thursday.
Under the leadership of new Speaker Mike Johnson, the House voted 226-196 on Thursday to send a $14.3 billion bill to the Senate that fully funds President Biden's request to support Israel. In it was a pay-for that strips the same amount of money from the IRS, which received $80 billion in additional funds that Congress rubber-stamped at the end of the Pelosi tenure last December. The $80 billion would hire 87,000 additional IRS agents to go after "tax cheats" and help "modernize the agency."
Sending money to Israel has never been controversial, even during peace times - but with Israel under attack, the bill should have sailed through the House nearly unanimously. There are about a dozen ultra-left-leaning House Democrats (the Squad, for example) who would never have approved any aid for Israel. That the bill attracted 196 Nays shows the deep belief the Democrats have in the power of the federal government, especially the IRS.
The Senate, furious at Johnson's ploy at not including Ukraine money in the Israel aid bill, has said it won't even consider the legislation. Remember that President Biden has asked for $61.4 billion for Ukraine. Many Republicans, including Senators McConnell, Graham, and Collins, strongly support the president’s request. Biden has promised to veto any legislation that comes to his desk for the same reason. Biden, Schumer, and McConnell steadfastly believe that Ukraine and Israel are intertwined. We believe that Ukraine and Israel are two separate issues.
We have consistently maintained in these columns that Ukraine should get no emergency money so that we can force the fighting to stop and trigger conditions for peace talks to begin. The war, even by the admission of Zelensky's top advisers, is currently unwinnable, according to an excellent Time magazine article. Too many people have suffered. America can't be distracted by a war in the Middle East and also defend Taiwan while additional funds to Ukraine make 43-year-old Ukrainian men (the average age of the Ukrainian military according to Time) additional fodder for the Russian onslaught.
We argued last week that Speaker Johnson has an excellent opportunity to course-correct on Ukraine. We feared that the new speaker would get sucked into the Military Industrial Complex vortex, and we were partially correct. Johnson again said that he was okay with sending Ukraine money, but the approval was conditional.
Asked during a press conference Thursday how Johnson intends to handle future Ukraine aid, a point of contention within the House GOP conference, the Speaker responded, according to The Hill, "Ukraine will come in short order; it will come next. And you've heard me say that we want to pair border security with Ukraine, because I think we can get bipartisan agreement on both of those matters."
So, we looked at the Biden administration's request for the border supplemental. (Attachment 5). All the money in it is to "humanely" resettle immigrants who are already here, which is an euphemism to send money to sanctuary cities like New York.
If you were thinking that the emergency funding would prevent new immigrants from crossing the border - by building a border wall or by funding the Mexican military to police the border - you have to hope some more. None of that is in the request. The word "security" appears only once, and that is to fix a security patch in a computer system - a $61 million project. We are not joking.
Nearly a third of the request, $4.5 billion, goes to "transport, hold, and process migrants encountered along the Southwest border; hire additional agents and officers; and reimburse the Department of Defense for support on the Southwest border. Funds would also be transferred to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for grants to entities providing shelter and services to migrants released from DHS custody."
That last phrase that we bolded is code for sending federal money to Democrat-led sanctuary cities that threw a welcome mat to migrants but now realize that they grossly miscalculated. These cities are broke. They are so broke that according to the AP, which broke the story, the mayors of five cities - Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York - are pressing to meet with President Joe Biden about getting federal help in managing the surge of migrants they say are arriving in their cities. The AP included a letter that it says it obtained from the mayors. So, if anything, the border request will grow in size.
Biden's supplemental requests $2.5 billion for immigration and customs operations support. This funding would be used to "hire additional criminal investigators, attorneys, and support staff. It would also provide additional resources for immigration enforcement, detention, transportation, and removal, as well as funding for counter-fentanyl activities." But note that most of this money is after the fact, that is, after someone has already crossed the border. Yes, the words "immigration enforcement' are in the line item, but if Biden had enforced the nation's laws, we wouldn't be in this mess.
Interesting weeks are ahead as the government hurtles towards another shutdown in just a couple of weeks.
If Johnson produces a magic bill that cuts Ukraine funding down, House conservatives will vote it down (they don't want any money for Ukraine), the Senate will again oppose it (not enough money for Ukraine), and Biden will threaten to veto it.
If Johnson adds more border money to build a border wall or beef up real security, again, the Democratic-led Senate will be against it, and Biden will veto it.
Congress may have to pass a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government alive for a few months. But it was opposition to a CR that brought House rebels to bring about McCarthy's downfall. Will Speaker Johnson go down as well?
One thing is for sure. Everyone in Washington is mad at everyone else. Welcome to the holiday season.
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