April 23, 2024
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  • GAO Confirms Biden Administration Spends Border Security Funds on Environmental Agenda

    Washington, D.C. - In November of 2023, House Budget Committee Chairman Arrington (R-TX) and Oversight Task Force Chair Congressman Bergman (R-MI) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) seeking clarity on whether the Biden Administration violated the Impoundment Control Act of 1974 by blocking the use of fundsintended to continue construction and secure the border wall. On April 22, 2024, GAO issued its response.

    Background - From the Report:

    • Congress appropriated funds to the Department of Homeland Security for a barrier system or fencing for fiscal years 2018 through 2021. 

    • On January 20, 2021, the President issued a “proclamation” effectively pausing border barrier constructionand obligations to the extent permitted by law.

    • The proclamation ended the prior Administration’s emergency declaration, stating the new policy that “no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall.” 

    • Among other things, the Proclamation further directed the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense to work with other officials and develop a plan for redirecting border wall funds.

    Thus, GAO, in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), authored a report entitled “Border Barrier Construction and Obligations” for DHS to seek factual information and its legal views on this matter. 

    In light of this, Chairman Arrington and Representative Bergman’s letter to GAO asked if the Biden Administration violated the law by blocking the use of funds intended to continue the construction of border barriers.

    Key Takeaways From GAO's Response:

    • GAO determined that DHS has not intentionally blocked funding for the border wall. Therefore, they did not technically break the law. 

    • GAO’s decision did, however, note that DHS has yet to obligate over $660 million and has spent the majority of the funding on environmental planning and other non-barrier construction. DHS continues to play political games that stall contractors and prevent barriers from being built, effectively finding a way to dodge the law. 

    • Congress appropriated nearly $1.4 billion in Fiscal Year 2020 specifically “for the construction of [a] barrier system along the southwest border,” but according to Texas’ Southern District, the “bulk” or “vast majority of the Government’s FY 2020 and 2021 obligations are not allocated to new wall construction.” 

    • The Biden Administration has violated the purpose of the law by diverting that funding away from directly constructing border barriers to focus on environmental policies. 

    • The General Land Office of the State of Texas and the Attorney General of the State of Missouri have both filed lawsuits against the Biden Administration, alleging that DHS is not properly following the intent of the law by spending taxpayer dollars on activities other than border wall construction. 

    The Purpose of Physical Barriers:

    The $1.4 billion appropriated by Congress was intended for the construction of a barrier system. It is well known that physical barriers are an effective deterrence that stop or dramatically reduce illegal crossings at our southwest border. In 2020, when barriers were being built, DHS reported that: 

    • In the Yuma Sector, “Illegal entries in areas with new border wall system plummeted over 87% in FY 20 compared to FY 19.”

    • In the Rio Grande Valley Sector, “CBP has seen 79% decrease in apprehensions in this area (Zone 1) since the completion of the border wall system.”

    • In the El Paso Sector, “apprehensions have decreased by 60% and 81% respectively when comparing the last half of fiscal year FY 20 to the first half of FY 20.” 

    As per DHS, these massive reductions in illegal immigration are due solely to the construction of physical barriers. The barriers force migrants to go to ports of entry where they can be processed by Customs and Border Protection agents, avoid dangerous cartels, and have the potential to enter the U.S. legally.

    The Bottom Line:

    While the GAO report may show that the Biden Administration has not explicitly broken the law, it does show that DHS and the White House are circumventing the law to shirk executive responsibility and accountability. 

    The lack of enforcement and operation control at our southwest border under the Biden Administration is simply a dereliction of duty. The fact of the matter is that American taxpayer dollars to secure the border are going unspent or wasted on frivolous environmental planning and remediation

    More from the House Budget Committee on the Border:

    Click HERE for our “Biden’s Border Blunder: The Cost of Catch and Release”

    Click HERE for our “Cost of.. Biden’s Weak National Security Policies”

    Click HERE for our “Cost of… Biden’s Border Crisis.”

    Click HERE to read “The Costly Border Crisis.”

    Click HERE to read “Biden’s Border Crisis Enters Third Year”

    Click HERE to read “Newsom Extends Free Healthcare to 700,000 Illegal Immigrants Despite Record Budget Deficit

    The Committee has unrelentingly pursued answers from the Department of Homeland Security: 

    Click HERE for our first letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

    Click HERE for our second letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. 

    Click HERE to read an overview of what Chairman Arrington requests in these letters. 

    House Republicans are tirelessly working to "Reverse the Curse” of the Democrat agenda, from open border policies to their ambivalence toward the debt crisis. The Budget Committee is fighting for brighter days ahead for all Americans. Click HERE for our FY24-33 Budget Resolution.