Senate Passes Defense Spending Bill with Funding for Border Security

Update: on 9/29/06, the President signed this bill into law (P.L. 109-289).

The Senate, on 9/7/06, passed by a 98-0 vote the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2007 (H.R. 5631)--a $469.7 billion defense spending measure that includes nearly $2 billion in emergency funding for border security measures. The border security funding was added to the bill on 8/2/06, by an amendment offered by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ). Their amendment adds $1.829 billion for the construction of 370 miles of triple-layered fencing, and 500 miles of vehicle barriers along the southwest border.

The Senate adopted a similar Sessions amendment during floor debate on the comprehensive immigration reform bill (S. 2611). That amendment, which passed 83-16, would provide for the construction of at least 370 miles of triple-layered fencing and 500 miles of vehicle barriers in areas along the southwest border that the Secretary of Homeland Security determines are areas that are most often used by smugglers and aliens attempting to gain entry into the U.S. In addition, the amendment would require the DHS to repair and extend existing fencing, and construct vehicle barriers, in the Tucson and Yuma sectors. All construction would be required to be completed within two years of the bill’s enactment. The Senate immigration reform bill, however, remains in limbo, as House Republican leaders have chosen to spend the summer attacking the bill’s merits during a series nationwide “faux” hearings, rather than conferencing the bill with the House’s flawed, enforcement-only vehicle (H.R. 4437).

Senator Sessions apparently argued that the funding for the fence should be made part of the defense spending bill given that National Guardsmen would be assisting with its construction.

The House, which passed its version of the bill on 6/20/06, but did not include border-related funding, is expected to support the Senate’s addition of same during conference negotiations on the bill.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 06091169.