McCarthy to Introduce Border Wall Funding Bill This Week
Speaker hopeful plays to GOP base with conservative immigration enforcement measure
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is planning to introduce a bill this week that would provide $23.4 billion more in funding for President Donald Trump’s border wall and include several other immigration enforcement measures, his spokeswoman confirmed Tuesday.
The soon-to-be-introduced bill, first reported by Breitbart News, is red meat designed to fire up the Republican base ahead of the midterms, as well as signal to GOP lawmakers in Congress that McCarthy supports conservatives’ policy priorities.
The California Republican is hoping to lead the House GOP conference next year either as speaker, if his party retains the majority, or minority leader, if the GOP loses the House.
House Freedom Caucus co-founder Jim Jordan is also running for speaker, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise is interested in the post if McCarthy fails to get enough votes to clinch it.
The leadership race has quickly become a battle of who can show they’re the most conservative, with all three potential candidates making numerous appearances on Fox News and introducing legislation to demonstrate their conservative policy chops.
The coming legislation on border wall funding and immigration enforcement is the latest McCarthy move designed to appeal to conservatives in the conference whom he needs to win over to be elected speaker. When McCarthy ran for the gavel in 2015, he fell short because of conservative opposition.
McCarthy’s bill also comes at a time when Congress is gearing up for a postelection fight over border wall funding in December. GOP leaders got Trump to agree to avoid having that battle with Democrats before the midterms, but they’ve said they’re ready to push for it after the elections.
“We will have a big fight about that,” Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters Monday at a National Press Club event in Washington. The Wisconsin Republican said he didn’t know how the fight would play out but he would not rule out a partial government shutdown.
Besides the border wall funding, McCarthy’s bill — to be titled the “Build the Wall, Enforce the Law Act” — will also package together several immigration enforcement measures the House has already passed this year. Those include provisions targeting sanctuary cities and allowing the deportation of undocumented immigrants involved in gang activity, as well as resolutions supporting U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel and opposing municipalities that have allowed undocumented immigrants to vote.
The measure is focused strictly on border security and enforcement, areas that House Republicans generally agree on, and should easily pass the chamber. It would face a filibuster from Democrats in the Senate and thus is highly unlikely to reach Trump’s desk.
But the bill could serve as House Republicans’ opening bid in immigration negotiations that are likely to take place in November and December over the Homeland Security appropriations bill. That measure needs to be funded by Dec. 7, when a current continuing resolution for the agency will expire.
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