CHARLESTON, W.Va. — While admitting the border security agreement is not “everything everybody would want,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., says the congressional conference committee she is a part of did its job by coming up with a proposal meeting multiple interests.
“We reached a bipartisan agreement, which is what we should do,” she said in a Facebook Live video on Tuesday. “That’s what you sent us here for, that’s what you sent me here for.”
Conference committee leaders announced Monday the agreement, which includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of new barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, additional beds at detention centers and an increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security. More than 650 miles of walls already exists.
President Donald Trump told reporters he wasn’t happy with the deal “at first glance.”
“Looking over all aspects knowing that this will be hooked up with lots of money from other sources,” Trump tweeted. “Will be getting almost $23 BILLION for Border Security. Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!”
It is not clear what other sources the president is considering.
Trump requested $5.7 billion for a southern barrier prior to the December partial government shutdown, which left around 800,000 federal employees working without pay or furloughed. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the 35-day shutdown cost the economy $11 billion, in which around $3 billion will not be recovered.
Senate appropriators approved $1.6 billion for a border structure prior to Trump’s demand; the president rejected the proposal.
Capito is one of the 17 members of the conference committee; she also chairs the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee.
“I see this as a three-legged stool: We have 55 miles of barrier, we have hundreds of millions more in technology to detect drugs and people coming across the border illegally, and we also have more people to advance the challenges,” she said.
“I think it’s a good bill. It’s not everything everybody would want; it’s not everything I would want, it’s not everything President Trump wants, it’s not everything that (House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi would want. It has things in there that she doesn’t want.”
One user asked Capito why border security is important to West Virginia, to which she responded by mentioning drugs crossing the border as well as the importance of enforcing existing immigration laws.
“Heroin, fentanyl, crystal meth. It’s all coming across the southern border. And you know what it’s doing? It’s ruining lives in West Virginia,” she said. “People that you know and I know that have lost family members, church members, people they went to school with, their own parents and children. It’s a tragedy.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration has noted a majority of illegal drugs brought into the country come through legal points of entry.
“We want to inspect every car, every truck. I do. That’s the goal,” Capito said. “I think with technology we’re going to be able to get there.”
The deal has to be approved before Friday at midnight to avert a second government shutdown.