Rep. Michael McCaul wins committee approval of ‘tough’ border security legislation
House Republicans led by Texas Rep. Michael McCaul are making gains in their effort to require the Obama administration to develop a yardstick for measuring federal law enforcement agencies’ “operational control” of the U.S. border before spending more money on border security.
McCaul, chairman of the influential House Committee on Homeland Security, won unanimous backing by the 32-member panel on Wednesday for his legislation to require the Department of Homeland Security to establish metrics and a roadmap for additional enforcement before seeking additional enforcement spending.
“We have all heard the empty claims by the administration that the border is more secure than ever,” McCaul, a Republican from Austin, told the panel. “But this rhetoric is in stark contrast to reality.”
McCaul’s legislation calls for the U.S. Border Patrol to achieve operational control along 90 percent of the 1,969-mile U.S.-Mexico border.
Congress’ watchdog Governmental Accountability Office previously concluded federal law enforcement agencies enjoyed operational control along less than half the Southwest border and barely two percent of the U.S.-Canadian border.
“The bar we set in this legislation is tough, realistic and achievable,” said McCaul, a former federal prosecutor and former deputy attorney general of Texas. “Stopping 90 percent of illegal crossers and interdicting significant portions of drugs coming into this country will increase our security.”
Before McCaul’s legislation cleared the panel, Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., led an effort by House Democrats to pencil in $3 billion in projected spending to help federal law enforcement agencies meet the higher standard for operational control.
“I want us to put (in) the resources to match this effort so we can get it done,” Thompson told the panel.
McCaul agreed to include language in the committee report accompanying the legislation to satisfy Thompson’s request for $3 billion up front.
McCaul’s move cleared the way for bipartisan support for the legislation which now goes to the House floor for expected action in coming weeks.
McCaul’s legislation has received fast track consideration since he proposed the measure on April 9. The House Subcommittee on Border and Maritime Security cleared the measure for action by the full committee on April 24, setting the stage for final committee approval on May 15 — barely five weeks after introduction.