What is House Bill H.R. 546?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 546
In-Depth: Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to allow the Treasury Secretary to sell revenue bonds to support the construction of the southern border wall and improve security infrastructure at the southern border:
"Border security is national security. We can't afford to let political games get in the way of protecting our nation and its citizens. Our bill allows bonds to be purchased by American citizens in order to fund the border wall. It also allows the Administration to utilize financial resources, including donations by the American people, for the wall that Democrats refuse to provide. Historically, we've seen Americans rise to the occasion to support the defense of our country, and this is no different."
When he originally introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Rep. Palazzo called border bonds a "safe investment" in America's security:
“This bill is a safe investment into the infrastructure and security of our country. During World War II, 85 million Americans purchased $185 billion in war bonds and financially supported our troops while they were defending our country. This legislation would allow for the patriots of today’s era to help support American security in the same way as previous generations. The American people are fed up with the political games fueled by the Democrats’ inaction to secure our borders and protect our citizens. In November of 2016, Americans voted for better border security and as Vice-Chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I believe this legislation allows new alternatives for our citizens to support their values and defend our homeland.”
“Achieving $5 billion in fundraising will be difficult, even for a cause the president has championed, if statistics on Americans’ charitable contributions are a guide. For example, the Barack Obama Foundation garnered roughly $250 million in revenue last year. And the charity that drew the most fundraising from cash and stock in 2017 was the United Way at just $3.3 billion, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy.”
Marc Rosenblum, deputy director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, argues that additional border wall fencing in remote parts of the U.S.-Mexico border would be useless for preventing unauthorized immigrants’ entry:
“There is a reason people don't build fences in the middle of nowhere; it doesn't change the enforcement profile in the middle of nowhere. The existing fence has worked because of where it is, near populated areas. Both Democrats and Republicans have testified that they have the fencing they need.”
Former White House chief of staff John Kelly, who left the Trump administration in January 2019, called the wall “a waste of money” in an interview on stage at Duke University on March 6, 2019. Kelly added that he disagreed with Trump’s characterization of immigrants from Mexico and Central America as violent and dangerous to Americas, saying, “They’re overwhelmingly not criminals. They’re people coming up here for economic purposes. I don’t blame them for that.” Kelly concluded, “We don’t need a wall from sea to shining sea.”
This bill has seven Republican cosponsors in the 116th Congress. Last Congress, it had two Republican cosponsors and didn’t receive a committee vote. In the 115th Congress, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) introduced a similar bill allowing the Treasury to issue “border wall bonds.” That bill, which had four Republican cosponsors, also didn’t receive a committee vote.
Of Note: The Secure Fence Act was signed into law by President George W. Bush on October 26, 2006. It authorized the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, along with new surveillance by both federal agents and technology. The Secure the Fence Act passed the House by on a party-line vote, with a majority of Democrats opposing the bill (283-138); in the Senate, it passed on an 80-19 vote with the support of 25 Democrats, including then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and current Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). Over a decade later, the southern border fence remains incomplete, and its completion was a key pillar of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
President Trump’s promise to make Mexico pay for the construction of a southern border wall was one of his signature campaign promises in 2016. From the start of his presidential campaign, and going into his presidency, Trump has promised supporters that Mexico — not American taxpayers — would pay to build a wall along the southern border. When he announced his presidential run in June 2016, then-candidate Trump said:
"I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I'll have Mexico pay for that wall."
Since becoming president, Trump has struggled to make good on his promise to secure wall funding from Mexico. In January 2019, the partial government shutdown was precipitated by Trump’s demand for $5 billion to build the wall. However, Democrats held firm and refused to approve that dollar amount, and negotiators ultimately agreed on $1.37 billion for 55 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a January 2015 statement to the Daily Caller, Rep. Michael McCaul, then-chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said, “in our conversations with outside groups, experts and stakeholders, we learned that it would be an inefficient use of taxpayer money to complete the fence. … We are using that money to utilize other technology to create a secure border." Since Trump’s election, Rep. McCaul has taken various positions on Trump’s border wall proposal, calling it “kind of a simplistic” “knee-jerk response” in August 2015, then supporting it immediately after Trump’s election. In February 2017, Rep. McCaul appeared opposed to the construction of a border wall spanning the full U.S.-Mexico border:
“I don't think we need a 2,000-mile wall down there. We need a physical barrier, multi-layered approach, using both infrastructure but also technology and personnel. Those are the three main things that border patrol tells us they need."
In the current Congress, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) has also reintroduced the Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act, which would allow private citizens to donate to the border wall’s construction. During the 115th Congress, Rep. Davidson touted his plan in an NPR interview:
“I've offered a modest compromise called Buy a Brick, Build a Wall (ph) that we introduced, which lets the American people, or whomever should choose to donate - Mexicans or otherwise - to donate to the program… You could do with this sort of, like, crowdfunding site. Or you could even do blockchain, and you could have wall coins. But you could raise the money. And frankly, if we get it right at the Treasury, you could even accept Mexican pesos.”
- Sponsoring Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) Press Release (116th Congress)
- Sponsoring Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS) Press Release (115th Congress)
- Jackson Free Press
- Business Insider
- Roll Call
- CNBC (Context)
- Countable (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Rex_Wholster)
Border Bonds for America Act of 2019
To provide for the issuance of revenue bonds to fund construction of a physical border barrier and related technology, roads, and lighting along the United States border with Mexico.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Border Security, Facilitation, and OperationsCommittee on Ways and MeansIntroducedJanuary 15th, 2019
- house Committees