Graham, Cornyn trade public blows over Gang of 8 border amendment cost

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham raised concerns Tuesday about the price tag of an amendment to the immigration reform bill proposed by Texas Sen. John Cornyn to increase border security, saying it was too high to be feasible.

Graham, a Republican member of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” that authored the comprehensive immigration reform bill, told reporters that Cornyn’s amendment, which would increase the threshold for border security, “as constructed, it’s gonna add 20 plus billion dollars” to the cost of reform.

“It’s kind of odd: we think sequestration’s a good thing, but we’re gonna throw money at the border. That’s a little schizophrenic,” Graham said.

Cornyn’s office has not yet released the text of the amendment, which he outlined in a Dallas Morning News op-ed on Monday, leading one Senate aide to question Graham’s assessment of cost.

“It’s pretty remarkable that Sen. Graham managed to get his hands on a CBO score of an amendment that hasn’t been released or put into text yet,” the aide told The Daily Caller.

Graham said his assessment was based on the number of new border patrol agents Cornyn’s proposal would add, saying that “10 thousand border patrol agents” would cost over $18 billion, a calculation he appears to have based on estimations for the cost of the Gang’s bill, which would add 2500 new border patrol agents and cost over $6 billion.

Cornyn’s office pointed out that, in fact, the amendment only called for the addition of 5,000 new agents.

Though the text of the amendment is not yet available, Cornyn press secretary Drew Brandewie told The Daily Caller: “We agree it has to be practical and achievable, which is why we appropriate the exact same amount as the Gang of Eight: $6.5 billion.”

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