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Press Release: Sali Works to Restore Border Fence Gutted by Omnibus Spending Bill

December 20th, 2007 by Halli

From Congressman Bill Sali

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The catch-all spending bill that just passed Congress contains a provision that would gut plans for a border fence on America’s southwest border – a fence that was specifically designed to help combat illegal immigration and improve border security. Idaho Congressman Bill Sali said Wednesday that in January he will introduce a bill to overturn the fence-gutting provisions of the omnibus spending bill, which were sneaked into a 3,500-page multi-topic legislation. With only 15 hours to study the bill before being required to vote upon it, many Members of Congress likely did not fully understand how border security would be impacted by the provisions that were approved. Sali voted against the measure when it was first considered by the House on Monday of this week because it failed to fund American service personnel fighting in Iraq and because of the measure’s concurrent failure to provide adequate border security.

On Wednesday, Sali voted for a provision that would amend the bill to add funding for our troops in Iraq; this additional spending was sent back to the House from the Senate.

“I’m gratified that the bill contains money that I sought for Idaho, including funding for the Special Olympics. I’m delighted that, after a lot of prodding, Congress finally added money for our troops serving with distinction in Iraq. Our troops need and deserve our support. The Special Olympics and other Idaho projects should be funded as well. But there is no excuse for the way all of this came together and for the sneaky and underhanded way in which this bill was used to undermine the security of our borders. This was a gross violation of the public trust and nothing short of legislative sleight-of-hand,” the Congressman said.

In 2006, Congress approved the construction of 700 miles of border fencing in order to combat illegal immigration on the southern U.S. border.

The border security-dismantling provisions of the omnibus spending bill are buried on pages 120-124 of the bill. The measure removes all the requirements for the Secretary of Homeland Security to construct the border fence that Congress approved in 2006. Instead, the bill calls on the secretary to justify the reasons for building each 15-mile section of fence versus using a different option for securing that section of the border. The bill then adds a host of red tape to the fence building process, including consultation with local governments and other federal agencies before funding for the fence can be used.

“This is bureaucratic micro-management run amok,” said Sali. “This provision will make it impossible to build anything, except the government bureaucracy and the caseload for lawyers who will file the lawsuits to stop the fence. Like timber sales from federal land and the host of cases where an impact on an endangered species is merely alleged, building the border fence will become rife with lawsuits that will prohibit its completion.”

Additionally, the bill removes provisions that Congress approved in 2006, calling for the fence to be built in several specific locations that Congress determined would maximize security enhancement from the fence.

Sali, who has been outspoken in the need for congressional reform, earlier this year introduced a measure that would allow Members to demand separate votes on unrelated issues if combined in bills. If Sali’s congressional reform measure were in place, it would have allowed Sali and other members of Congress to require a separate vote on separate subjects. “It would really reduce the amount of junk that Congress approves if objectionable matters – such the hurdles placed in the way of building the border fence – were separated from provisions Congress would likely approve – like the funding for Idaho’s Special Olympics, U.S. 95, a detox center in Boise and the nursing program at Northwest Nazarene University.” Sali said, “This 3,500-page bill makes the case that Congress should be voting on measures separately, because these kitchen-sink spending bills are a mess, plain and simple.”

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Posted in Congressman Bill Sali, Constitutional Issues, National Sovereignty | No Comments »

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