Grijalva: Trump Must Explain Why Rural America, not Mexico, is Paying for His Border Wall – And Whether He’s Building it in Mexico
Note: The online version of this press release includes an extended quote from Ranking Member Grijalva. The final paragraph was not included in the originally publicized version.
Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today called on President Trump to explain why his budget plan forces rural and Native American communities to pay for his border wall rather than following through on his false promise to make Mexico pay for it. Grijalva also called on Trump to provide more detail regarding the proposed route of the wall in light of serious questions about where it will be built.
Trump’s latest budget request to pay for the border wall, which has no support from Democrats, increases the risk of a government shutdown on April 28, when the current law funding the federal government expires. April 28 marks the 100th day of the Trump administration.
A recent list from the administration suggested cutting $18 billion from domestic spending this fiscal year to fund military programs and begin construction on the southern border wall, including a $714 million reduction to Interior Department funding. These cuts – the details of which make it clear that Trump is shifting the costs of the wall to rural and Native American communities – would be on top of the $1.5 billion reduction proposed in the president’s budget blueprint for fiscal year 2018.
Trump’s latest budget offsets, according to Politico, include:
- $50 million reduction for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. PILT dollars allow local governments to provide critical health, education, cultural and emergency services to their residents and federal lands visitors.
- $230 million reduction in Abandoned Mine Land (AML) grants. AML grants turn abandoned mine sites throughout Appalachia into office parks, gardens, and tourist attractions.
- $25 million reduction in Indian Health Services’ (IHS) preventive health activities. Prevention activities promote Indian health and address chronic conditions and diseases in Indian Country.
However the wall is paid for, questions are growing about where the administration plans to try to build it, including from members of the president’s own cabinet. According to E&E News, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently said, “The border is complicated, as far as building a physical wall…The Rio Grande, what side of the river are you going to put the wall? We’re not going to put it on our side and cede the river to Mexico. And we’re probably not going to put it in the middle of the river.”
Grijalva said too many questions exist about the funding and location of the wall for any responsible lawmaker in either party to support the effort.
“President Trump lied about making Mexico pay for his wall,” said Grijalva. “These cuts mean American communities are going to pay for it with their money and their quality of life. Trump is trying to build his wall by destroying air quality, water quality and health care, especially in rural and Native communities, and lying about it with a straight face.”
Just as seriously, Grijalva said, administration officials have to come clean about just where the wall will go.
“Too many questions about this expensive, pointless wall remain unanswered,” Grijalva said. “What about eminent domain? What about tribal sovereignty? Does the president intend to build the wall in Mexican territory, as Secretary Zinke wondered? Will this wall cut through Big Bend National Park? My colleagues in Congress and I need to know the answers to these questions before they start cashing checks on the backs of rural and Native communities.
“I am so tired of Republicans who say 'without borders, we have no country.' We have borders, and if they don’t know where they are, I would be happy to show them. What they mean is they think we can’t have a country without a giant, destructive border wall. To which I say, we can and we do.”
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