Republican Lawmakers Balk At Trump’s Border Wall, Citing Exorbitant Costs And Futility
Over a dozen Republicans in Congress are expressing skepticism about President Donald Trump’s plan to construct an “impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall” along the 1,954-mile-long border between the United States and Mexico.
Some of the GOP lawmakers say they will vote against any legislation funding a wall unless its potentially steep cost is wholly offset by cuts in spending elsewhere, reports CNN.
Other Republicans in Congress say that the wall, if built, will fail to stem the tide of illegal immigration from Mexico as well as Central America.
Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker counts himself among the legislators concerned about how any wall would be funded.
“I don’t want to see any spending, additional spending on anything done that is not paid for,” Corker told CNN. “We have got a huge fiscal problem right now — $20.355 trillion in debt projected to add $9.7 trillion over the next 10 years.”
Lamar Alexander, Tennessee’s other senator, expressed similar sentiments.
“Everything we spend we need to find a way to pay for,” Alexander told CNN.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski is also concerned about the budgetary effect of any wall proposal.
“If you’re going to spend that kind of money, you’re going to have to show me where you’re going to get that money,” Murkowski told the news network.
Last week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan estimated that a wall such as the one repeatedly promised by Trump would cost between $12 billion and $15 billion.
To put this dollar amount in perspective, it is roughly equal to the entire annual gross-domestic product of Jamaica.
Ryan said it’s possible that the cost of the proposed wall might not need to be entirely offset by spending cuts elsewhere because the wall is “a national security priority.”
Republicans who are concerned that a wall between the United States and Mexico will do little to stem the tide of illegal immigration include Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. John McCain.
“I don’t think we’re just going to be able to solve border security with a physical barrier because people can come under, around it and through it,” Cornyn told CNN.
During his presidential campaign, Trump promised that work on a massive border wall would begin “on day one” of his administration.
“On day one, we will begin working on an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful southern border wall,” Trump said. “And Mexico will pay for the wall. They don’t know it yet, but they’re going to pay for the wall. And they’re great people and great leaders but they’re going to pay for the wall.”
Trump made the comments after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto.
Two weeks into Trump’s presidential administration, skeptical Republican lawmakers say they don’t believe Trump will — or should — actually find a way to compel Mexico to pay the cost of the wall.
“I don’t count on Mexico to pay for our national security,” Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford told CNN. “It’s the responsibility of every nation to take care of their own security.”
In recent days, Trump has suggested that U.S. taxpayers will initially foot the bill for the wall. Then, at some undisclosed later date, Mexico will reimburse the United States for the costs.
Some Republicans don’t think Trump will be able to obtain such a reimbursement.
“It’s not a viable option,” John McCain told CNN.
Last week, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer floated the idea of a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico in order to pay for the promised wall along the southern border of the U.S. (RELATED: Spicer Says Import Tax Still The ‘Best Plan’ For Funding Wall)
Republican senators quickly criticized an import tax.
Trump’s Homeland Security secretary, John Kelly, has been negotiating with GOP lawmakers this week about border security options. However, senators involved in the discussions have complained about a lack of concrete details.