House approves funds for Trump’s border wall

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The House of Representatives approved a $827 billion spending package on Thursday evening, including the funds to begin building President Donald J.Trump’s proposed border wall.

President Trump asked for $1.6 billion to start building the wall along the souther border, as well as funds for national defense, programs to help veterans, legislative branch operations and the Department of Energy.

The bill passed by a vote of 235-192, with five Republicans breaking party lines to vote ‘no’. The naysayers are: Reps. Justin Amash (MI), John Duncan Jr. (TN), Walter Jones (N.C.), Thomas Massie (KY), and Mark Sanford (S.C.).

Five centrist Democrats also broke party lines to vote in favor of the bill. They are: Reps. Sanford Bishop (GA), Charlie Crist (FL), Josh Gottheimer (N.J.), Tom O’Halleran (AZ.) and Kyrsten Sinema (AZ).

House GOP leaders added the $1.6 billion for the border wall to the spending package by using a procedural maneuver that empowers them to include the money without a vote.

Senate Democrats are therefore likely to attempt to block the package because they likely won’t want to support funds for building the border wall.

The House spending package spreads the $1.6 billion over different elements of a physical barrier on the southern U.S. border with Mexico, including barriers in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, San and Diego, California.

The Rio Grand would see 32 miles of new fencing, and 28 miles of new levee wall. In San Diego, 14 miles of secondary fencing would be constructed.

The House bill also includes a $68 billion increase for the Defense Department, $3.9 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and a $29 million funding increase for the Capitol Police. Also included are additional funds for members of Congress to use for increasing their personal security.

The bill was debated for two days. It includes just four of twelve annual appropriations bills. Another eight spending bills will be considered when the House returns from its August recess.

Critics say all the bills needed to be considered at once because when separated, the individual bills face more opposition. But when combined, some Republicans would be obliged to vote in favor of the bill.

Either way, in the end the real challenge is getting Senate Democrats to pass the bill, experts say.

The Senate will tackle the budget issue after their summer recess, with government funding set to expire on Oct. 1, 2016.

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