Rep. Cuellar: President’s $8.6B request for border wall ‘fiscally irresponsible’

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said a request for nearly $9 billion in border wall construction in next year’s budget was “fiscally irresponsible,” according to a news release from the congressman’s office.

That statement came Monday after reports surfaced that President Trump is planning to request from Congress $8.6 billion for border wall construction in the fiscal year 2020 budget.

Cuellar, who recently secured language in a spending bill that at least for now has spared environmentally sensitive areas in the Rio Grande Valley, has come out against any new funds for border wall construction.

“President Trump’s request is simply short-sighted and fiscally irresponsible. Any budget that allocates billions toward a border wall is bad policy and an unacceptable waste of taxpayer dollars,” the congressman said in a prepared statement. “Congress has made it clear that it refuses to fund an unnecessary and expensive 14th century wall.

“The president’s insistence over this funding has already proven itself futile: It resulted in a government shutdown, which hurt hundreds of thousands of citizens across the country.”

The request comes as the president’s national emergency declaration rolls into the 30-day mark.

Trump declared a national emergency on the U.S.-Mexico border on Feb. 15, the same day he signed a spending bill worked out by lawmakers that avoided another partial government shutdown. This was after a shutdown that lasted more than a month after he refused to take the deal presented to him in December.

The new offer, $1.375 billion for new bollard fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, was well short of the $5.7 billion for which Trump asked.

Cuellar said in the prepared statement that he and his Democratic colleagues prefer “smart, effective border security,” as opposed to physical barriers.

“… The president’s new request will make drastic cuts to key federal government programs and services, prolong federal deficits, and unnecessarily harm to the American people,” he said in the release. “I understand firsthand that a safe homeland starts with modern solutions that work including advanced technology, border personnel and increased infrastructure at our ports of entry.”

This new request could potentially lead to another shutdown, as this spending bill proposal would have to be approved by Oct. 1, leaving the door open for contentious bargaining over how much of the nearly $9 billion lawmakers would be willing to approve for border wall barriers.

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect the correct amount of the border wall funding request.