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H.R. 6657 (115th): Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act


President Trump is threatening to cause a government shutdown later this year if the border wall with Mexico isn’t fully funded. This bill would do so.

Context

How much will the government spend on a border wall?

President Trump wants a $5 billion down payment. The House originally wanted to allocate less than half that amount: $2.2 billion. The Senate wanted less still: $1.6 billion.

And if Democrats take over one or both chamber of Congress in November’s midterms, that amount might be zero.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ5)

What the bill does

The Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act [H.R. 6657] most obviously does what its title implies: funds and completes the border wall with Mexico. In addition, the bill would also:

  • Deduct $2,000 in foreign aid to Mexico for every undocumented person caught trying to cross the border, with that saved money going towards the border wall.
  • More than quadruples fees highway fees such as tolls on certain routes, from $6 to $25, to fund the border wall. (Seemingly going back on Republican pledges not to raise fees or taxes.)
  • Institutes a fee for any money transfer where the recipient is located outside the U.S., intended to target often-undocumented Mexican immigrants who send money to family back home.

What supporters say

Supporters argue the bill is a necessary defense to national security and fulfills a key campaign promise — arguably the single biggest campaign promise — of President Trump.

“Even with a Republican-controlled House and Senate, we have failed to secure the funds for the border wall,” Rep. Biggs said in a press release. “In the meantime, our Border Patrol agents suffer demoralizing losses of resources and personnel.”

“We must keep our promises to the American people,” Biggs continued. “We must fund, start, and complete the border wall without further delay.”

What opponents say

While Democrats are united in their opposition to the border wall, more surprising opposition comes from some congressional Republicans, many of whom object to the wall on either fiscal or security grounds.

“I have concerns about spending un-offset money, which adds to the debt, period,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) told CNN. “I don’t think we’re just going to be able to solve border security with a physical barrier because people can come under, around it and through it.”

“I don’t want to see any spending, additional spending on anything done that is not paid for,” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) also told CNN when asked about the wall. “We have got a huge fiscal problem right now — $20.355 trillion in debt projected to add $9.7 trillion over the next 10 years… There are so many things that people are talking about spending money on and at the same time lowering the amount of revenue. And it’s a recipe for disaster.”

Odds of passage

The bill has five House cosponsors, all Republicans. It awaits a potential vote in one of several House committees including Appropriations, Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Judiciary, or Ways and Means.

Last updated Aug 14, 2018. View all GovTrack summaries.

The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Aug 7, 2018.


Fund and Complete the Border Wall Act

This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to establish the Secure the Southern Border Fund to provide funds to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to: (1) construct a barrier along the U.S.-Mexico international border, and (2) purchase U.S. Border Patrol vehicles and equipment.

DHS shall annually provide the Department of State and Congress with the number of apprehensions and nationality of aliens who illegally entered the United States through the U.S- Mexico land border. The bill reduces by $2,000 per alien the foreign assistance provided to the countries of nationality of such aliens and transfers such revenue to the fund. The State Department may opt to not reduce appropriations to Mexico for military, narcotics control, and anti-terrorism activities.

The Electronic Fund Transfer Act is amended to establish a 5% foreign remittance fee to be transferred to the fund. A foreign country that aids an individual to avoid such fee shall be ineligible for foreign assistance and the visa waiver program.

The bill increases the fee for the alien admission/departure I-94 form and transfers such revenue to the fund, the Land Border Inspection Fee account, and the Border Patrol.

The bill directs DHS by December 31, 2019, to: (1) design and install physical barriers, roads, and technology along the the U.S.-Mexico international border to prevent illegal crossings; and (2) achieve operational control of the U.S. international land and maritime borders.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 is amended to permit Border Patrol agents to receive overtime pay.