by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
That’s how Washington Examiner headline writers assess the message some Republican congressmen are sending to governments that discourage businesses from contracting to build President Trump’s southern border wall. Byron York offers details.
All this has caught the attention of Republicans in Congress who want to see the Trump administration go forward with the wall. This week, two GOP senators, Luther Strange of Alabama and David Perdue of Georgia, introduced a bill that would cut funding under two massive federal infrastructure and transportation programs to any jurisdictions “that refuse to cooperate with the federal government on immigration matters or retaliate against border security contractors.” Strange and Perdue propose to take the money that would have gone to sanctuary jurisdictions and use it to help pay for the wall.
The two programs are the TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) program, which has handed out more than $5 billion since its inception in the Obama administration, and the recently-created FASTLANE (Fostering Advancements in Shipping and Transportation for the Long-term Achievement of National Efficiencies) program, which is slated to make more than $4.5 billion in grants in the next three years.
The idea of withholding federal infrastructure and transportation grants from sanctuary jurisdictions is an expansion on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ threat to withhold Justice Department grants to those who defy the law. But the bill’s inclusion of sanctuary jurisdictions that threaten companies with retaliation is a new twist — as is the idea of using withheld federal funds toward the construction of the wall.
In an interview Tuesday, Strange said the idea came during a discussion with Sessions, his predecessor as senator from Alabama.
“The gist of our bill is, look, if you’re in a jurisdiction and you pass an ordinance or piece of legislation that penalizes one of your own companies, small businessmen or women, from even bidding on helping to build the wall, pave a parking lot, whatever it is as part of that project, then we would give the federal government the option to take that grant money and re-allocate it to building the wall,” Strange said.