Update 10:58pm Eastern: Yeah, I’m watching C-SPAN. The motion to concur in the House amendments to HR2764, the omnibus spending bill, just passed…76-17, with 1 present. More here.
Update 10:20pm Eastern. Sen. Jim DeMint is on the Senate floor right now blasting the omnibus bill for gutting the fence, removing the ban on sanctuary cities, and funding illegal alien lawyers. Hear, hear.
Update 1:20pm Eastern. Omnibusting links the section of the bill containing the border-gutting.
Update 10:20am Eastern. The fence gets robbed, but the spending bill gives $10 million in “emergency” funding for attorneys of illegal immigrants?!!?!
Fence? What fence?
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I’ve warned several times that the border fence expansion was gesture politics. (See here, here, here, and here.) We’ve watched Democrats and Republicans undermine the Secure Fence Act repeatedly since it was passed. Open-borders zealots joined with Big Business types to stall and protest construction. It ain’t a fence. It’s a FINO: Fence in Name Only. Here’s more confirmation of the fence farce via the Washington Times:
Congress last night passed a giant new spending bill that undermines current plans for a U.S.-Mexico border fence, allowing the Homeland Security Department to build a single-tier barrier rather than the two-tier version that has worked in California…The 2006 Secure Fence Act specifically called for “two layers of reinforced fencing” and listed five specific sections of border where it should be installed. The new spending bill removes the two-tier requirement and the list of locations.
House Democrats said they were just adopting the Senate version, which was backed by a bipartisan group of border-state senators and passed the Senate several times this year.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the Texas Republican who has led the charge to change the 2006 law, said she wants to give Homeland Security more flexibility and wants local officials and landowners to be consulted.
“Senator Hutchison believes that Customs and Border Protection can better decide how to utilize limited resources to secure the border than a congressman from Maine,” said Matt Mackowiak, Mrs. Hutchison’s spokesman. He said double-tier fencing has worked in San Diego, but it might not be the right solution for the entire fence.
But Rep. Peter T. King, who sponsored the Secure Fence Act, said if the goal was to give DHS flexibility, the senators have failed.
“This is either a blatant oversight or a deliberate attempt to disregard the border security of our country,” the New York Republican said. “As it’s currently written, the omnibus language guts the Secure Fence Act almost entirely. Quite simply, it is unacceptable.”
How much of the fence has been built?
Here’s what I wrote in September 2006 when the Secure Fence Act was passed:
Yes, I know. The House voted to approve a 700-mile fence at the southern border…
…But forgive me if I don’t break out the pom-poms over this. There’s no funding for the fence, which will take years to build if it ever does get funded. There are so many other immediate reforms that could have been adopted this year that would have strengthened immigration enforcement, closed deportation loopholes immediately, and provided true relief at the border. (And don’t even get me started on this administration’s renewed laxity at the front door, which has been thrown open to tens of thousands of new Saudi student visa holders while enforcement against millions of current visa overstayers remain virtually non-existent.)
The 700-mile fence vote is an election season gesture, and grass-roots conservatives who have watched the GOP squander away this issue for six years are not going to be appeased by mid-September 2006 gesture politics.
Meanwhile, the Border Patrol is under siege.