Midterm Election: Republicans plan to Build the Wall

    One can already imagine what Nancy Pelosi’s response will be, but the point of this push reported by Fox News isn’t really to shake loose border-wall funding. If that happens, great — but this is intended mainly as an appetizer for framing the midterm elections next year. The Republican Study Committee will propose a $22 billion funding bill that will subsidize state efforts to complete the wall on the southern border, the construction of which Joe Biden halted in his first days in office.

    Don’t sit by the mailbox waiting for the check, though:

    The House Republican Study Committee (RSC) unveiled their strategy to Fox News to call out Democrats for blocking any border wall construction or money for additional border agents in their homeland security funding plan. Meanwhile, the largest House conservative caucus Wednesday will offer an alternative bill to buck the Biden adminstration and give money directly to states that want to continue former President Donald Trump’s fight to build the wall with Mexico.

    “I believe that protecting our border security through the appropriations process is a Hill to Die On, and I will act accordingly when it comes time to fund our government,” Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., the chairman of the RSC, said in a memo to colleagues this week obtained by Fox News. …

    “Steel, paid for by taxpayers, is sitting rusting on the ground,” Banks wrote of the border wall situation. “Federal contractors have already received taxpayer dollars and are literally being paid by the Biden administration not to build the wall.”

    That’s a pretty good argument for completing at least the portions of wall-building that Congress already funded. Republicans are going to court to challenge Biden’s refusal to execute a program Congress and the previous president authorized by statute, including here in Texas. Land commissioner George P. Bush filed a lawsuit last week seeking to force the White House to finish what Congress authorized, which is also intended as an opening salvo in the next election:

    Filed in a Texas federal court Tuesday, the lawsuit asks a judge to invalidate President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day executive order pausing all new border wall construction.

    Bush argues President Joe Biden overstepped his authority by unilaterally cutting off a project Congress had already approved and partially funded, and he says the administration didn’t follow the standard procedure for changing federal policies. …

    “The [Constitution] strictly instructs the president to faithfully execute the laws that the Congress passes,” Bush said in a Wednesday press conference near the southern border. “The president has really only two choices: Either follow the law, or see your day in court.”

    Bush wants to challenge scandal-tainted Ken Paxton in next year’s AG election, Forbes notes. The lawsuit certainly will raise Bush’s profile, although as a scion of the Bush family in Texas, that could be gilding the lily a bit. However, the lawsuit also makes some constitutional sense; Bush is correct that presidents can’t just revoke programs specifically authorized and funded by Congress and signed into law by predecessors. Whether a court will apply that principle in this case remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a strong argument.

    Pelosi can simply ignore this bill, at least for now, but it might become somewhat more uncomfortable as the border crisis continues. Texas governor Greg Abbott has already announced that he will build the portions of the wall that the federal government has abandoned this year, and has begun raising private money to fund it. Democrats have countered with proposals to actually cut money from border security and redirect it to more “humane” policies, but that’s the kind of signaling that led to the months-long border crisis.

    As that continues, the pressure from suburban voters to deal with the problems will only increase. Republicans miscalculated the intensity of the border-wall issue in 2018’s midterms, primarily because voters accepted that it was no longer an issue with Donald Trump in charge. Democrats might end up making a mirror image of that mistake by ignoring the border crisis and pretending that all is well while voters — especially in the border states — know damned well that all is not well. The RSC proposal is intended to catalyze that conundrum, but that will rely in part in just how much coverage the border crisis gets over the next 18 months. Republicans had better plan to draw attention to it for their strategy to have any hope of success.

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