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October 04, 2007

Senate Votes for More Border Control

It's a small step, but one I'm happy to see. The Senate has included $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security in a defense spending bill. The $3 billion had already passed as part of the homeland security spending bill in July which President Bush has threatened to veto because it is $2 billion over budget. By contrast, Bush is expected to sign the defense spending bill without a fight.

The money will be designated "emergency spending" and tasked with securing the southern border:

The $3 billion would pay for new and existing provisions, including funding 700 miles of fencing, thousands of new Border Patrol agents, 300 miles of vehicle barriers and 105 ground-based radar cameras.

Of course, that's the 700-mile fence that was authorized back in October of last year. It's finally receiving enough funding to be completed. Now we get to hold our breaths and hope that DHS Secretary Chertoff gets the job done.

The inclusion of $3 billion for border security is a nod from Republican senators to everyone who called for enforcement before amnesty during the debate on comprehensive immigration reform in June. At least some senators are listening; this legislation came from Senator Lindsey Graham, one of John McCain's go-to guys on amnesty. Maybe Graham is feeling the pressure of 2008.

The 95 to 1 vote approving the border security addition to the defense spending bill puts the lie to Democrats and soft-on-immigration Republicans who claimed that enforcement had to be accompanied by amnesty-like or amnesty-lite measures.

The House defense spending bill contained no DHS spending. The two versions must be reconciled before heading to the president's desk. Let's hope our border security funding doesn't disappear in conference.

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 11:08 AM

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