A member of the House Appropriations Committee says that the chamber’s Department of Homeland Security appropriation bill is centering around border security — particularly restarting border wall construction — to combat the ongoing crisis at the southern border, as well as cutting spending and getting rid of “woke” funding sources.
“We said we’d do two things: We’d curb the spending, and we would remove the woke,” Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Mont., told Fox News Digital in an interview this week.
The appropriations bill for DHS includes a slew of Republican priorities when it comes to the border, including increasing funding for wall construction along the southern border by over $2 billion, and would force the agency to allocate the funding to build it within 120 days. It is expected to move forward next week.
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The Trump-era wall project was scrapped by the Biden administration, although some construction is still ongoing due to language in appropriations bills approved during the Trump administration. Zinke made clear that it remains a top priority for Republicans in this legislation.
“People ask me, ‘What does a bill look like?’ I say, ‘Well, primarily it looks about 32 feet tall and about 600 miles long. That’s what it looks like.'”
It would also provide funding for 22,000 Border Patrol agents and fund border security technology with $228 million.
“You have more money directed to the men who man the wall. That’s our Border Patrol professionals, because, you know, they’re having a hard time recruiting and those type of things, so it puts more money on actually the people that man the wall and then increases the technology around the wall,” he said.
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That would include Autonomous Surveillance Towers and Tactical Aerostats — the administration grounded those aerostats last year. Separately, it would fund ICE to the tune of nearly $10 billion.
He also pointed to language that would prevent funding for “gender-affirming care” for illegal immigrants in detention and for diversity, equality and inclusion programs and add restrictions on programs that include critical race theory.
The bill will be open to amendments, of which a number of Republicans have proposed a number of hard-hitting amendments — including reducing Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ salary and defunding “sanctuary” cities. Zinke said he expects the bill to remain roughly the same after the amendment process.
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“There might be a few additions, subtractions back and forth, but I think the core and the thrust of the bill will remain the same,” he said. “I think it’s a good bill. And if you’re a conservative, you know, I think you want to curb the spending and remove the woke. And all these appropriation bills do just that.”
Zinke does not expect the Democratic-controlled Senate to think much of the bill that would eventually emerge from the lower chamber. He was blunt in his assessment of the upper chamber.
“Looking at what the Senate passed, I don’t think the Senate is going to like our bill at all . . . the Senate in many ways, I think, is too old and too fat on pork to change.“
The bill comes amid a looming shutdown threat if the government is not funded past September 30. Lawmakers have until then to fund the government or pass a short-term stopgap continuing resolution. Zinke says it is up to the House to do its job in passing its appropriations bills, and then it’s in the hands of the Senate.
“We need to get two or three or four appropriations done, and that’s enough just to begin the reconciliation process to get the bills in shape where they become law. But if the Senate doesn’t take them up, the shutdown is going to be squarely on their lap, because we’ll do our job.”
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He also emphasized the importance of the appropriations process over tools like continuing resolutions.
“These firewalls we’ve built over time, continuing resolutions and mandatory and discretionary, all these clever terms, I think have drawn us away from our primary duty of appropriations, and they are conveniences that allowed Congress to punt all these years,” he said.
“And now we’re going down to the one-inch line. I don’t think we can punt anymore. We’ve got to take the hard call.”