On Wednesday, Sessions–whose committee works with House GOP leadership to structure votes on the bill on the House floor– officially began the process of allocating funds for the start of the construction of President Donald Trump’s promised border wall with Mexico.
In an interview with Breitbart News on Wednesday, shortly after the “Department of Homeland Security Border Infrastructure Construction Appropriations Act, 2018” resolution passed, Sessions told Breitbart News: “We have effectively taken what the president wanted and begun that process,” referring to his “self-executed” placement of nearly $1.6 billion into a defense funding bill.
The resolution passed with seven votes to four and went to the House floor on Thursday. Then, on Thursday, the full House passed the measure 230-196.
“The Rules Committee has had hundreds of amendments including problems that have plagued us that are policy-oriented for a number of years,” Sessions told Breitbart News on Wednesday. “More than money, it is the policy decisions that are made, and we are re-honing and returning the focus from Barack Obama into what I consider to be a more normal process of running these agencies with better rules and regulations.”
According to the resolution, $1,571,239,000 will remain available until September 30, 2020. The bill states that $784,000,000 will go towards funding a 32-mile stretch of “new border bollard fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, Texas.” Another $498,000,000 will be allocated for 28 miles of new bollard levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley. An additional $251,000,000 is set for a 14-mile stretch of secondary fencing in San Diego, California. And a remaining $38,239,000 will be used for planning for border wall construction.
“There are huge advantages for us moving forward, not only on the wall but the four appropriations bills that we’re going to complete this week,” Sessions told Breitbart News. The four bills are focused on funding for the Legislative Branch, water, military construction and the Veterans Association, and the Department of Defense (DOD).
Sessions said Wednesday’s announcement is a move in the right direction. The controversial items were resolved in favor of Republican conservative directions,” Sessions said.
Last week, 10 illegal aliens died as smugglers attempted to sneak them into Texas on the back of a packed 18-wheeler.
“[T]hese people paid a terrible price and demonstrate why we need a secure border and legal immigration reform so we can control who enters our country,” Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick wrote in response to the tragedy. “We continue to pray for the families and friends of the victims.”
The Democrats have continuously pushed back against the notion of a border wall, and have particularly taken issue with the fact that the wall is being funded using taxpayer dollars as opposed to being paid for by Mexico.
“Every Democratic talking point has brought this issue up, and there were some very negative comments made about the president,” Sessions said. “Obviously, there’s a lot of partisanship engaged in this. The Democratic Party is very open about opening up our borders for any and all who choose to come. They do not support any real effort to help our law enforcement and that’s why they are doing what they are doing on this effort.”
He said law enforcement “are asking for this help to stem the tide of drugs, illegal gangs, drug cartels, and we are simply still being overrun on the Texas border, among other places. And we are going to do something about it.”
He said both the border wall and President Trump’s decision to bar transgender people from serving in the military are “difficult for Democrats who are completely beholden to Nancy Pelosi on these issues.” He noted that while the Democrats have been “participatory,” he feels he will see the most involvement from them with regard to the Legislative Branch and water issues.
Sessions said several hundred amendments will be voted on that take into account what he described as “Republican conservative ideas that people will get their chance to edit into the bill also.” He said, “I am very, very pleased and excited with the level of participation from a number of members who have taken up this amendment process.”
Now the bill heads to the Senate for consideration there.
Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News.