July 17, 2009
WASHINGTON -- A handful of border lawmakers have urged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic House leaders to keep a requirement for double layer fencing on the U.S.-Mexico border out of a final Homeland Security Department spending bill.The Senate version of the spending bill includes the requirement written by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., for double fencing along 700 miles of the border, rather than barriers and high-tech equipment. That House version does not include the requirement.
The Senate amendment could be removed from the bill when a House and Senate conference committee meets to negotiate a final bill.
The border lawmakers said in their letter the amendment unnecessarily extends the length of the border fence at taxpayer expense and wastes money that could be used for other security purposes, such as fortifying ports of entry.
DeMint has said the electronic and other barriers the department has been using don't work as well as real fence in blocking people crossing the border on foot.
Lawmakers who signed the letter this week were Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar, Solomon Ortiz, Ruben Hinojosa and Silvestre Reyes, House Intelligence Committee chairman, all of Texas; Bob Filner and Susan Davis of California and Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona.