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Hurd and Border State Members to Introduce ‘Smart’ Wall Bill

Moderates join in calls for partnership with Silicon Valley

Rep. Will Hurd's SMART Act would require DHS to have a comprehensive border wall plan before construction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Will Hurd's SMART Act would require DHS to have a comprehensive border wall plan before construction. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In an attempt to bridge the divide between President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to build a border wall and Republican moderates’ hesitation surrounding the plan, Rep. Will Hurd is looking to Silicon Valley for help.

The Texas Republican is leading a group of border state lawmakers, as well as moderates, to offer their own plan of building a “smart” wall, CNN reported.

Hurd will introduce the “Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology Act,” or SMART Act, Thursday.

“People that are dealing with this issue know that a 3rd century solution to a 21st century problem is not going to fix this long term,” Hurd said.

Hurd’s plan uses estimates from Anduril Industries, a Silicon Valley-based defense technology company. Instead of a $24.5 million-per-mile wall as the federal government’s fiscal year 2018 request estimated, Hurd’s proposal comes in at a high of $500,000 per mile.

The border is something Hurd is very familiar with, as his district includes more than 800 miles of the southern border, one-third of the total border with Mexico. He represents more area along the border than any other lawmaker.

Hurd is joined by one Democratic co-sponsor, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar. In addition, five Republicans are co-sponsoring the bill, including California Reps. David Valadao and Steve Knight, New Mexico Rep. Steve Pearce, and Pennsylvania Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick and Keith Rothfus.

The Department of Homeland Security previously rejected congressional requests for a comprehensive border wall plan. Hurd’s bill would focus on finding a technological solution such as sensor technology, computer imaging and virtual reality headsets. The bill would also require DHS to have a plan in place before starting any construction.

Hurd has faced difficulty in the past with his efforts on the border. He proposed an amendment to the military funding package in the House that would have required a comprehensive plan for the border wall. That amendment was not included in the package.

Even with hurdles, Hurd hopes he can bring lawmakers to common ground on the wall debate.

“You have to have good ideas, you have to have people willing to promote those ideas, you have to have agreements in order to get things done,” Hurd told CNN. “And the goal should be securing our border, making our country safer, and we should not hamstring ourselves by only focusing on one tool in our toolkit.”

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