When he took office, President Barack Obama couldn’t stop talking about spending the government’s money on “shovel ready” jobs. There weren’t a whole lot of them.
Now, eight years later, he and the Democrats are going to be trying to obstruct one huge shovel ready job, at least if one senator is right.
In an interview with the Washington Examiner, newly re-elected Wisconsin Republican Sen. Rob Johnson said that President-elect Donald Trump’s border wall was not only doable, it could be done quickly and as part of the new administration’s $1 trillion infrastructure package.
“In terms of federal spending, it’s not going to be that expensive, and if President Trump when he becomes president is talking about an infrastructure program, well this would be a shovel ready project,” Johnson told the Examiner.
The senator pointed to legislation signed by former President George W. Bush, The Secure Fence Act of 2006. That legislation “(a)uthorizes the construction of hundreds of miles of additional fencing along our Southern border” and “(a)uthorizes the Department of Homeland Security to increase the use of advanced technology like cameras, satellites, and unmanned aerial vehicles to reinforce our infrastructure at the border.”
That legislation was never repealed by the Obama administration, but it was ignored for reasons one suspects were both obvious and cynical.
The senator told the Examiner that immigration and entrance fees, both from Mexicans and from others traveling to the United States, could help pay for the wall, which he said would cost “a few billion.”
“Fencing actually works. So we need better fencing. We need more better fencing. And that could relieve pressure,” Johnson said.
“Let’s face it, part of the problem that Customs and Border Protection is dealing with is the fact that they are having a hard time hiring enough people. So the nice thing about fencing, particularly if you have double fencing with a road in between the fencing, it requires fewer agents,” he explained.
“And so you kind of kill two birds with one stone there. You provide better security and you are able to provide this better security with fewer agents,” he added. “That’s a good thing.”
The senator also pointed out that the wall didn’t necessarily have to be physical all the way from California to the Gulf of Mexico, noting that some areas of terrain were so harsh that they were unlikely to be crossed, and thus could be secured by technology.
“From my standpoint, the wall maybe viewed somewhat as a metaphor. I don’t think we need 1,700 miles of it, but we need far better fencing than we’ve got,” Johnson said.
And, as for obstructionism from Democrats in Congress, the senator said, “Hopefully they heard the wish of the American public that we want to secure our border.”
Sen. Johnson certainly sounds confident. He is but one voice in the debate, though, and the Democrats are sure to have their say.
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