The US House of Representatives has passed a USD 827 billion package that includes USD 1.6 billion for a controversial border wall with Mexico, which was part of President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge during the 2016 presidential polls.
Trump had vowed to build the wall to prevent illegal immigration and smuggling of drugs to the US, but he had said he would make Mexico pay for it.
All of the funds in the bill would be paid for by US taxpayers.
The bill was passed on Thursday by the Republican- controlled House with a 235-192 vote, mostly along party lines. The bill now heads to the Senate – where Democrats have a significant strength – before it can be signed into law by the US president.
The Trump administration defended the wall and the Democrats lashed out at the move.
“The border wall is one more tool in the toolbox that might prevent some of the things from happening,” Tom Homan, acting director of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told reporters at a White House news conference.
The Democratic leadership has been opposing the proposed border wall. It is likely that the legislation would be resisted by the opposition party in the Senate.
Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said the bill “would squander billions of taxpayer dollars on President Trump’s immoral, ineffective and expensive border wall.”
Pelosi also reminded the House that Trump had during his campaign “promised a wall that Mexico would pay for.”
“He said it would cost USD 4-6 billion. The fact is it could cost as much as USD 30-40 billion. And he wants a down payment for that wall in this bill. One poison pill,” she said.
“A wall along the US-Mexican border will not make the United States safer nor more secure,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley said.
Democratic National Committee Chair Tom too raised his concerns on similar lines in a statement. “Like many of the president’s policies, this initiative is rooted in nothing more than prejudice and fear mongering. And as with so many of his campaign pledges, he has broken his promise to Americans that they wouldn’t pay a dime for this wall.”
(With inputs from agencies)