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Senate May Return to Finish Off Border Security Bill

In addition to passing the state fiscal aid bill today, the House passed a border security bill that was identical to what the Senate passed last week. But because the Senate used the wrong type of shell bill to pass it, there were constitutional concerns, so the House instead passed their own version, which will require future Senate action. Hilariously, rage addicts John McCain and Jon Kyl made the preposterous claim that House leaders wanted to “steal credit” for the Senate’s bill, neglecting the fact that the House first passed a version of this back in July. McCain and Kyl also forgot to mention that the Senate screwed up. But they did call for the Senate to return to session to make the necessary votes to get this bill done. And Harry Reid may do just that.

“In light of the vote in the House, the hope is that we can pass the bill by consent by the end of the week,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said.

House leaders decided that the $600 million border security bill passed last week by the Senate would violate the Constitution’s requirement that spending bills originate in the House. As a result they passed a new — albeit identical — version of the bill, sending it back to the Senate.

According to Manley, Reid wants to have the bill cleared for the president’s signature by unanimous consent, a procedure that would not require the chamber’s 100 members to return to Washington. Instead, a Senator from a local state — such as Virginia, Maryland or West Virginia — could convene a brief session of the Senate to act on the bill.

God forbid Senators have to return to Washington for a day of their six-week break.

Meanwhile, intra-chamber wrangling aside, the people who this bill would supposedly protect, residents living in border areas, don’t think they need the help:

The findings of the first independent public opinion poll of residents along in border cities in California, Arizona, Texas and New Mexico show that residents feel their border communities are as safe as most communities in the nation. The release of the report comes on the heels of the House of Representatives passage of a $600 million in supplemental funding for border enforcement (HR 6080) calling for more money and agents to the Southern border. The poll results confirm the disconnect between the widespread perception of chaos at the border and the less dramatic picture of reality of border life.

According to the poll, commissioned by the Border Network for Human Rights, a community organization in El Paso, Texas, and conducted by the Reuel Group, 86.5% of border residents said they feel safe walking or driving in their neighborhood during their regular daily activities. Almost 70% said they felt their border neighborhood was as safe as most U.S. neighborhoods and 67% said they felt safe living in their border community.

Which begs the question, “Why are we spending $600 million dollars on border security when that money could go to more productive needs?” There’s a small stimulus, I suppose, from building drones, but this bill also sends existing National Guard troops to the border rather than hire new patrol personnel. All to make an area safe that’s, well, already safe. And border crossings of this type is down since the recession began.

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David Dayen

David Dayen