Following Visit to Southern Border, Budget Republicans Demand Answers from Biden Administration on Continued Freeze of Border Wall Construction Funds
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Republican members of the House Budget Committee sent a letter to Shalanda Young, Director of the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), demanding answers from the Biden Administration on why it continues to illegally freeze funding for construction of a wall along the southern border. In their letter, the Republican members outline how the Biden Administration’s claim that its decision to freeze $1.4 billion in border wall construction funding is merely a “programmatic delay” now seems to clearly be a violation of the Impoundment Control Act of 1974. It has been 516 days since those funds have been put on hold or used for other purposes. “President Biden’s public statements and his Administration’s actions make it clear he has every intention on continuing to violate the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 by illegally withholding border wall funding,” said House Budget Committee Republican Leader Jason Smith (MO-08). “The President’s disregard for the rule of law is all the more unforgiveable given the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border which his Administration has failed to address. On a recent visit to the border, we learned that in the Rio Grande Valley sector alone, Border Patrol is having 10,000 encounters with illegal immigrants every week. American taxpayers are spending billions to house, transport, and otherwise care for millions of illegal immigrants. President Biden’s refusal to continue building the border wall – with funds Congress has already appropriated – is nothing more than sheer ideological stubbornness, putting the safety and security of the American people at risk.” The letter cites the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) ruling on June 15, 2021, that the Biden Administration’s decision to halt funding for the construction of the border wall was only legal and valid in GAO’s estimation if the funds are not withheld for policy reasons. “GAO made it very clear in its analysis that border wall construction funds could not be withheld for policy reasons and must be prudently obligated,” wrote the Republican members of the House Budget Committee. “Since that time, the Administration has shown zero intent to construct the border wall, which Congress specifically provided appropriations for on a bipartisan basis, and which were signed into law. Programmatic delays are only programmatic delays if the funds are eventually used for their intended purpose.” When questioned during a hearing of the House Budget Committee on March 31, 2022, about how the Administration was using the $1.4 billion in construction funding if not on building the wall, OMB Director Young stated the funds were being used for “environmental restoration” and “community consultation.” In their letter, the Republican members of the House Budget Committee ask several questions about the duration and specific nature of that spending by the Biden Administration as well as “How are the Administration’s ‘environmental restoration’ and ‘community consultation’ activities addressing the border crisis and protecting Americans from that crisis?” Today’s letter follows a recent visit to the southern border by a group of House Republicans, led by House Budget Committee Republican Leader Smith – the largest such group to travel to the border since President Biden took office – as part of an effort to investigate and provide oversight as to how billions of taxpayer funds are being spent as a consequence of President Biden’s border crisis. During their visit, members saw portions of the border wall that was started under President Trump’s leadership but which President Biden halted construction of on his first day in office – leaving $350 million worth of border wall steel sitting unused while contactors are paid to not build the wall. Since the start of the Biden White House, over 2.99 million migrant encounters have occurred at the southwest border, well over 1 million people have been released into the interior of the U.S., and 1,134,900 pounds of narcotics have been seized by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Click here or the image below to read the full letter.