Two Bigly Ideas to Fund the Border Wall

USCGC Polar class icebreaker at McMurdo Sound. Photo by lin padgham,

Trump has repeatedly said he would support a government shutdown if funding for his border wall was not included in the 2019 budget. Republicans have come up with two funding ideas.

House Republicans, led by House Appropriation Committee Chairman Rodney P. Frelinghuysen, have suggested $750 million be diverted to the wall from its original target: a heavy icebreaker ship repeatedly requested by the Coast Guard (ABC News)

Currently the Coast Guard has one heavy icebreaker ship, The Polar Star, which has been in service since 1976. The expected lifespan for heavy icebreakers is 30 years. Although this one did get $60 million in repairs in 2012, it is expected to be retired in 2023, when they hoped to have at least one more operational one.

Trump himself promised a new icebreaker at the Change of Command ceremony on June 1st of this year. 

One of the first times I met the Admiral last year, I asked him, “What do you need?” He replied, “Sir, we need icebreakers, and we need them badly.” Well, now you’re getting them. And to be specific, I’m pleased to report that the Coast Guard is now on course to receive its first new
heavy icebreaker in more than 40 years and plenty other ships and boats and equipment and everything you need.

(Government Publishing Office)

The heavy icebreaker is crucial in accessing the Arctic Circle, where an estimated 30% of the Earth’s undiscovered natural gas and 13% of the undiscovered oil lays ( Russia is already at work amassing a fleet of icebreakers to access the resources (Bloomberg). Halting construction of our icebreaker would not only open up the funding to transfer toward wall construction, it would also keep us from stepping on Russian toes by accessing those resources.

Even if Congress fails in diverting Coast Guard money to fund the wall, Representative Andy Biggs of Arizona proposed on Tuesday the “Fund and Complete The Border Wall Act.” This bill would fund the wall and Border Patrol agents, in part, by “taxing” the country of origin for each illegal alien caught crossing the border. $2000 of foreign aid would be diverted for each alien caught with the money diverted directly to the Border Wall project. Also included in the bill are proposals to add fees to outgoing international wire transfers, and an increase in I-94 filing fees for international visitors coming into the US (The Hill).

So far there do not appear to have been inquiries into how these “taxes” will affect foreign relations.

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