Two House conservatives expressed support for the Trump administration’s request for billions of dollars in funding to begin work on a planned border wall, saying the nation needs to do “what’s necessary” to secure the U.S.-Mexico border.
“We need to do what’s necessary to protect the United States, and we need to pay for that [wall],” Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, told reporters Thursday at the monthly Conversations With Conservatives event on Capitol Hill.
“It’s a good thing to have the money to begin to work on the wall,” added Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.
The Trump administration asked Congress for an immediate $1.5 billion to begin work and an additional $2.6 billion in its 2018 budget proposal released Thursday.
In total, the project is estimated to cost anywhere between $8 billion and $22 billion, according to Reuters.
Although he has “no problem with the president asking for that money,” Labrador said, the administration also should “look at the budget in defense” to find additional funds that can be used to secure the border.
When the question came up, several other conservative lawmakers already had left the room.
Gohmert, who represents the 1st Congressional District in northeastern Texas, said the administration should look into what happened to $4 billion previously appropriated for securing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The border spans nearly 2,000 miles and comprises state, federal, tribal, and private lands, according to the Government Accountability Office.
Gohmert said building a wall along the entire border would be unnecessary, but echoed President Donald Trump’s notion that putting up a wall would crack down on the drug trade. A wall, he added, might even help Mexico become a leading economy on the world stage.
“I know that it’s been taken as an affront to some in Mexico, but … they’re going to find out that the reason that they’re not one of the top 10 economies is because of the corruption, and the corruption is due to the drug cartels, and the drug cartels are so powerful because they sent an estimated $60 billion of poison—called drugs—into the United States last year,” the Texas Republican said, adding:
We’re going to save so much money from crime, from so many of the problems that led to poverty, and Mexico will have a chance to surge and be one of the top 10 economies in the [world] that it hasn’t ever been, but has always had the potential to be. They just need a helping hand to get rid of corruption, and we’re going to help them with that with a wall.
Trump made building a wall a cornerstone of his campaign, promising to make Mexico pay for it, and lately has said Mexico will do so one way or another.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto sternly rejected that notion, and thus far, it appears funding for the project will come from Congress.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., along with other Democrats, is threatening to shut down the government over the Trump administration’s requests to fund a border wall.
“If Republicans insist on inserting poison pill riders such as defunding Planned Parenthood, building a border wall, or starting a deportation force, they will be shutting down the government and delivering a severe blow to our economy,” Schumer said.
In response to threats to shut down the government, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters this week: “I’m amused by the Democrats’ apparently warming up to the idea that threatening to shut down the government’s a good idea.”