WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, more than 60 U.S. House members and four more senators signed onto U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, letter to GAO Comptroller Gene L. Dodaro highlighting President Joe Biden’s suspension of border wall funding and construction without lawful justification, as required by the Impoundment Control Act.
Last week, Senator Capito led a group of 40 Republican senators in defending Congress’ power of the purse, seeking a ruling from GAO on the administration’s unprecedented move.
The more than 60 House members signing on today were led by Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Committee Rep. John Katko (N.Y.-24), Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee Rep. Kay Granger (Texas-12), and Ranking Member of the Budget Committee Rep. Jason Smith (Mo.-8), as well as House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Calif.-23).
The total number of Members of Congress who have signed onto Senator Capito’s letter is now more than 100.
“On January 20th, in one of the first official acts of his presidency, Joseph Biden suspended border wall construction and ordered a freeze of funds provided by Congress for that purpose,” the lawmakers wrote. “In the weeks that followed, operational control of our southern border was compromised and a humanitarian and national security crisis has ensued. The President’s actions directly contributed to this unfortunate, yet entirely avoidable, scenario. They are also a blatant violation of federal law and infringe on Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.
The lawmakers continued, “We write regarding these actions. We believe they violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA), as interpreted by your office, and we request your legal opinion on the matter. Prompt action to end these violations is required to restore order at the border.”
Due to efforts by the Trump administration to secure the southern border with new infrastructure, illegal crossings in the Yuma Sector decreased by 87 percent from Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) to FY20 in areas with new border wall system. In the Rio Grande Valley Zone 1, an area that did not previously have border infrastructure, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) saw a 79 percent decrease in apprehensions and a 26 percent decrease in narcotics seizures after completion of the border wall. Additionally, in El Paso Zone 14 and 15, CBP saw 60 percent and 81 percent decreases in apprehensions, respectively, when comparing the second half of FY20 to the first half of FY20.
Since President Biden’s election in November 2020, CBP numbers have increased significantly. In February 2021, CBP had 100,441 border encounters, amounting to a 39 percent increase from 71,946 encounters in October 2020 and a 173 percent increase from the 36,687 encounters in February 2020 – just one year prior. Additionally, there have been 325,012 border encounters since November 2020, while there were only 220,563 in the four months prior – a 68 percent increase.
Currently, CBP is overwhelmed and overcapacity. Reports indicate that nearly all border patrol sectors are above 100 percent capacity, with some sectors double, triple, or even at significantly higher levels of overcapacity.
Senator Capito recently visited El Paso, Texas with a bipartisan group of senators, including Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), as well as Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to tour migrant facilities at the border, receive on-site briefings, and assess the ongoing crisis
The full text of the letter is linked here.
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