(The Center Square) – The $1.7 trillion omnibus bill that’s over 4,155 pages long includes hundreds of millions of dollars to fund border security efforts in other countries but would prohibit funding new U.S. border security technology and capabilities.
Democrats were joined by 21 Republican senators in voting to advance the bill, including U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.
It includes $772.5 billion in non-defense discretionary programs and $858 billion in defense funding, according to a bill summary published by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said on Tuesday, “I’m pretty proud of the fact that with a Democratic president, Democratic House, and Democratic Senate, we were able to achieve through this Omnibus spending bill essentially all of our priorities.”
These priorities include, U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, R-NC, says, prohibiting funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection technology to improve security at the southern U.S. border while funding border security for Middle Eastern countries.
The bill also would fund increased processing and transportation of illegal foreign nationals throughout the U.S. and allocate $1.2 million for DACA recipients, despite federal courts repeatedly ruling the program is illegal in a case brought by Texas.
The bill states, “None of the funds … shall be used to hire permanent federal employees; for any flight hours other than those flown by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, except for internal transportation of noncitizens; or to acquire, maintain, or extend border security technology and capabilities, except for technology and capabilities to improve Border Patrol processing.”
In response, the Border Patrol Union, which represents U.S. Border Patrol agents tasked with border security, said, “The Biden Admin doesn’t want more money for DHS to enforce laws and deport people. They only want more money to process more people so they can release more people. Don’t be fooled by their propaganda.”
The bill would allocate $410 million to border security for the countries of Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman through the Defense Security Cooperation Agency through Sept. 30, 2024.
The union also said, “No administration in modern history of this country has done more damage, killed the morale of Border Patrol agents and unleashed death, destruction, rapes, murders and mayhem at our border like the Biden administration.”
It notes that the Carter administration takes a distant second place from 1976 to 1980.
The omnibus bill also would allocate an additional $45 billion to Ukraine and NATO allies, after calls have gone ignored to audit the nearly $50 billion already given to Ukraine with no accountability for how it was spent or conditions to repay it to the U.S.
In 2018-2019, the government shut down after Congress pushed back against President Donald Trump asking for $5 billion to fund border wall construction along the U.S. southwest border.
Nearly $100 billion allocated to Ukraine alone would fund 20 border walls, critics note. President Joe Biden halted border wall construction as one of his first acts, prompting Texas and Missouri to sue. They’ve so far won their first court battles in a case that’s still pending.
The bill also allocates nearly $12 billion to replenish Department of Defense stocks drawn down by the president and sent to Ukraine. According to a Council on Foreign Relations analysis, $22.9 billion worth of U.S. taxpayer money previously sent to Ukraine defense efforts included $12.7 billion worth of weapons and equipment depleted from U.S. military stocks.
The $1.7 billion price tag of a bill most in Congress haven’t read, critics argue, is unsustainable. The U.S. is facing a $2 trillion budget deficit in 2023 and is $32 trillion in debt.
The 21 Senate Republicans who voted to advance it include Blunt, Boozman, Capito, Collins, Cornyn, Cotton, Graham, Grassley, Hyde-Smith, McConnell, Moran, Murkowski, Portman, Romney, Rounds, Rubio, Shelby, Thune, Tuberville, Wicker and Young.
U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, said the Senate voted “to spend billions we do not have, empower Biden bureaucrats with no fixes, and block us from securing the border for at least nine months.”
“This vote is indefensible and damaging to Texas,” he added. “It takes away our leverage to force Biden to secure the border and in fact specifically says new DHS money can only be used to process MORE people, which will lead to more fentanyl, violence, and death. For Texans, this alone is reason enough to oppose this terrible bill.”