Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., saw his amendment to the bipartisan infrastructure bill go down in defeat on Wednesday, but he tells Newsmax that his border wall measure would have cost nothing, and actually would have saved the federal government money.
Johnson's amendment would have prohibited ending any contracts for border barriers or security measures that already have funds obligated — language with a clear eye toward the wall that splintered lawmakers throughout Donald Trump's presidency. Construction was ended with a stroke of President Joe Biden's pen on Jan. 20.
Appearing Thursday on "Spicer & Co.," Johnson said his amendment made no attempt to spend more federal money. On the contrary, he said, when his fellow senators voted his amendment down, "they were just denying us finishing building a wall that's already been bought and paid for."
The Wednesday vote on the amendment defeated one of the few controversial proposed changes to the bill, keeping the broader legislation on track for a vote as soon as this weekend. It was blocked in a 49-48 vote, well short of the 60 votes needed for inclusion.
Johnson cited a report by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., saying it has cost the government close to $2 billion to terminate the federal contracts as well as costing $3 million a day to guard the construction supplies already purchased for the project.
All Johnson's amendment would have done, he said, would have made it impossible to terminate the contracts so that the wall would have to be built that has already been paid for, and it asked for no new appropriations.
"This used to be a nonpartisan, a bipartisan issue," he said. "Back in 2006, the Senate passed the Secure Fence Act by a vote of 80 to 19. [Then Sen.] Biden voted for it. Chuck Schumer voted for it. But now all of a sudden securing the border is a completely partisan issue."
Republicans have blamed Biden's immediate reversal of former Trump's border policies for the sudden spike in migrant crossings. Johnson told hosts Sean Spicer and Lyndsay Keith that Vice President Kamala Harris, who traveled to Central America to seek the origins of the border crisis didn't need to travel that far to find it.
"All she had to do is really walk into the Oval Office and look right at the root cause, which is President Biden," he said.
Bloomberg News contributed.
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