The Zaatari Camp, close to Jordan’s northern border with Syria, has become emblematic of the displacement of Syrians across the Middle East, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Photo: UN/ Stephane Dujarric
The 1,665-page spending bill the Republican-controlled Congress is planning to pass this week includes multiple measures that seemingly demonstrate a commitment to securing the border — in Libya, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
It does not include the $1.4 billion President Donald Trump requested to begin building the wall he promised to build along the U.S.-Mexico border.
But, the bill makes clear, Jordan’s border must be secured.
The section that appropriates money for the “Global War on Terrorism” provides: “That these funds may be used to support the Government of Jordan, in such amounts as the Secretary of Defense may determine, to enhance the ability of the armed forces of Jordan to increase or sustain security along its borders…”
Imagine if the part of the bill that appropriates money for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said: “That these funds may be used to support the Government of the United States, in such amounts as the Secretary of Homeland Security may determine, to enhance the ability of the Border Patrol to increase or sustain security along the southwestern border of the United States by building impenetrable walls along that border.”
Would that have been an outrage? Would it have justified Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer in leading a move to shut down the government of the United States to ensure no such walls were built?
Had the Republicans included money in the bill to fund Trump’s border wall, Schumer would have needed to explain to Americans why he is happy to spend their tax dollars to aid Jordan’s military in securing Jordan’s border while refusing to give the U.S. Border Patrol all the resources it needs — including walls — to secure the borders of the United States.
While the Republican leadership would not appropriate the $1.4 billion needed to start the wall at the U.S.-Mexico border, it is appropriating $1.3 billion for aid to Egypt. The bill even gives a special status to the part of this aid Egypt will use to secure its border.
“Of the funds appropriated by this Act under the heading ‘Foreign Military Financing Program,'” the bill says, “$1,300,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2018, may be made available for assistance for Egypt.”
Fifteen percent of these foreign aid dollars, the bill says, can be withheld from Egypt if the secretary of state does not certify that Egypt’s government is “taking effective steps” to “advance democracy and human rights.”
But even if the secretary of state does not certify that Egypt is advancing democracy and human rights, it will not impact that part of U.S. aid to Egypt that is aimed at improving Egyptian border security.
The bill says: “That the certification requirement of this paragraph shall not apply to funds appropriated by this Act under such heading for counterterrorism, border security, and nonproliferation programs for Egypt.”
In the United States of America, the Bill of Rights still applies. But Congress has not ensured that our own border is secure.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi argues it would be “immoral, expensive and unwise” to fund construction of a wall to protect this freedom-loving nation from those who try to cross our border in a calculated violation of the law. Does she, at the same time, think it is wise, moral and worth the cost to take money from Americans and give it to the government of Egypt to protect Egypt’s borders?
Under the terms of the funding bill, U.S. taxpayer money will also go to Ethiopia “for border security and counterterrorism programs.” It will go to the Lebanese Armed Forces “to professionalize the LAF and to strengthen border security and combat terrorism, including training and equipping the LAF to secure Lebanon’s borders.” It will go to Libya to “improve border security.” And it will go “to support programs to train border and customs officials in Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
But thanks to the deal that Republican and Democratic leaders made in Congress, it will not go to fund the border wall President Trump vowed to voters he would build if he were elected.
When Trump held a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday, the crowd chanted at him: “Build that wall! Build that wall! Build that wall!”
“Don’t worry, we’re going to have the wall,” he said. “Don’t worry about it.”
“We’ll build the wall, folks,” he said.
Whether Donald Trump does or does not build that wall will be a major measure of whether his presidency is a success or a failure.
Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor-in-chief of CNSnews.com.
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