What Changed?

On December 26th, Byron York posted an article at The Washington Examiner about building a border wall (or border fence).

The article reports:

In 2006 Congress passed the Secure Fence Act, which mandated the construction of multilayer pedestrian fencing along about 600 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. It passed with big, bipartisan majorities: 283 votes in the House and 80 in the Senate. Some top Democrats who are still in the Senate today supported the fence: Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Debbie Stabenow, and Sherrod Brown.

Just the next year, Congress made clear it didn’t really mean what it said. The new law was amended to make fence building optional.

In 2013, Congress got back into the fence game. The Gang of Eight comprehensive immigration reform bill included something called the “Southern Border Fencing Strategy.” It called for 700 miles of at least single-layer pedestrian fencing along the border. It wasn’t a standalone measure; the fence was to be part of a broader package of border security measures alongside provisions that would create a process by which the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants would ultimately gain a path to citizenship.

I wonder if the Democrats would be so anxious to provide a path to citizenship for illegals if the illegals who were granted citizenship were not allowed to vote for ten years or so.

The article lists the Senators who voted for the Southern Border Fencing Strategy:

With citizenship in the deal — even citizenship that would take a decade to achieve in some cases — Democrats were fully on board for a border barrier. The Gang of Eight bill passed in the Senate with 68 votes, including unanimous Democratic support. Name any Democrat who is in the Senate today who was there for that 2013 vote — Schumer, Durbin, Murray, Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Coons, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Hirono, Kaine, Klobuchar, Leahy, Manchin, Menendez, Merkley, Murphy, Reed, Sanders, Shaheen, Stabenow, Tester, Warner, Warren, Whitehouse, Wyden — name any, and they voted for the bill that included the Southern Border Fencing Strategy.

Now the government is 1/4 shut down (not necessarily a bad thing) because those same Senators oppose building a border wall (which they can call a fence if they like). What changed?

The Extra Zero That Changed The Bill

There has been a lot of talk recently about the immigration bill that Congress will be considering in the near future. There is one school of thought that says it is a political bill–not designed to pass, but designed to make House Republicans lose the 2014 election. Based on some recent changes to the original bill, that seems to be very likely.

Yesterday Byron York at the Washington Examiner reported that there has been a change in the original bill that significantly changes the cost.

The article reports:

The bill establishes a “Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund” to cover the various costs of reform.  It directs that when the bill is enacted, $6.5 billion will be transferred from the Treasury to the trust fund.  And then the bill specifies money to be appropriated for the start-up costs of the process to legalize the estimated 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally.

The original bill said this: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $100,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department [of Homeland Security] to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this act.”

The substitute bill reads differently: “On the later of the date of the enactment of this Act or October 1, 2013, $1,000,000,000 is hereby appropriated from the general fund of the Treasury, to remain available until September 30, 2015, to the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State to pay for one-time and startup costs necessary to implement this Act.”

Wow. We went from $100,000,000 to $1,000,000,000, and the bill hasn’t even passed yet. Imagine where it could go if it were passed!

The article in the Washington Examiner includes an update:

UPDATE: After this item was posted, a Gang of Eight spokesman emailed to say that, “The initial $100 million number listed for startup was incorrect; $1 billion is needed to ramp up operations to handle 11 million applicants and other new visa programs.  The money will be refunded to the Treasury from fines collected, so it is deficit neutral over the next few years.”

Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better.

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