Washington, D.C. – Amid the escalating crisis along the southern border, U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined 40 of her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Comptroller Gene L. Dodaro highlighting the Administration’s suspension of border wall funding and construction without lawful justification, as required by the Impoundment Control Act.
“On January 20th, in one of the first official acts of his presidency, Joseph Biden suspended border wall construction and ordered a freeze of funds provided by Congress for that purpose,” the Senators wrote. “In the weeks that followed, operational control of our southern border was compromised and a humanitarian and national security crisis has ensued. The President’s actions directly contributed to this unfortunate, yet entirely avoidable, scenario. They are also a blatant violation of federal law and infringe on Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.
“We write regarding these actions,” the Senators continued. “We believe they violated the Impoundment Control Act (ICA), as interpreted by your office, and we request your legal opinion on the matter. Prompt action to end these violations is required to restore order at the border.”
Senator Collins has consistently defended Congress’ constitutional power to appropriate taxpayer funds. In 2019, she led a bipartisan resolution to oppose the Trump Administration’s effort to divert funding Congress appropriated for military construction and other projects toward a border wall. The letter to GAO that Senator Collins signed today calls for an independent review of the Biden Administration’s decision to suspend lawfully appropriated funds expressly appropriated by Congress, on a bipartisan basis, for the construction of border barriers.
In February 2021, CBP had 100,441 border encounters, amounting to a 39 percent increase from 71,946 encounters in October 2020 and a 173 percent increase from the 36,687 encounters in February 2020 – just one year prior. Additionally, there have been 325,012 border encounters since November 2020, while there were only 220,563 in the four months prior – a 68 percent increase.
Currently, CBP is overwhelmed and overcapacity. Reporters indicate that nearly all border patrol sectors are above 100 percent capacity, with some sectors double, triple, or event at significantly higher levels of overcapacity.
The letter was led by Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and, in addition to Senator Collins, was signed by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Richard Shelby (R-AL), John Barrasso (R-WY), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), John Boozman (R-AR), Mike Braun (R-IN), Richard Burr (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MO), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Kennedy (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jim Risch (R-ID), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Rick Scott (R-FL), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Thune (R-SD), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Todd Young (R-ID).
Click HERE to read the full letter.