This bill — the Buy a Brick, Build the Wall Act — would allow the Secretary of the Treasury to accept public donations to fund the construction of a barrier on the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on Ways and MeansIntroducedJanuary 3rd, 2019
- house Committees
What is House Bill H.R. 32?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 32
In-Depth: Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to create an account at the U.S. Treasury dedicated to holding public donations for the completion of a wall along the U.S. southern border:
"Open border radicals make our country less safe for families everywhere. Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized 2,379 pounds of fentanyl and 6,967 pounds of heroin - drugs that would otherwise have made their way to Ohio streets for sale. This bill creates a way for our citizens to pitch in and help efforts to secure the border, support President Trump's commitment to build the wall, and keep future generations safe.”
In a primetime address to the nation on January 8, 2019, President Trump said law enforcement was seeking a barrier at the border:
“As part of an overall approach to border security, law enforcement professionals have requested $5.7 billion for a physical barrier... This barrier is absolutely critical to border security. It's also what our professionals at the border want and need. This is just common sense.“
Democrats have been largely unified in their opposition to Trump’s border wall, which they view as xenophobic and a waste of taxpayer money. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), in a letter to her colleagues in early 2018, called the border wall an issue on which her caucus “must all speak out.” However, in December 2018, a group of border-state House Democrats accused Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) of betraying them on the border wall issue due to comments Sen. Schumer made about backing more funding for the border.
In December 2018, the ACLU, Amnesty International USA, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Sierra Club, and a range of other advocacy organizations signed a letter urging lawmakers in both chambers to reject any new funding for the border wall and other Trump security priorities.
Environmental scientists — a group that typically doesn’t make political statements — have spoken out against the border wall proposal over environmental concerns. Robert Peters, lead author of a paper in Bioscience documenting the ecological harms of fence and barrier construction along the U.S.-Mexico border and the further damage that’d be incurred by the Trump administration’s proposed continuous wall that’s co-signed by 2,700 scientists from 47 countries, notes in his paper that “[f]ences and walls erected along international boundaries in the name of national security have unintended but significant consequences for biodiversity.”
According to Jenni Miller, senior scientist at Defenders of Wildlife, barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border threaten 1,500 species of plants and animals, including 62 endangered or vulnerable species. Miller questions the wisdom of trading the environment for national security:
“Debates about the border wall typically focus on immigration, economics and national security, but the harm to Americans’ natural heritage is an outcome rarely discussed. Do we really want to trade our natural heritage for national security?”
GovTrack Insider notes that, in addition to resistance to the border wall itself, there are also some concerns about the politics of crowdfunding:
“Some worry that the ability to donate privately to such a federal project would primarily serve as a way for individuals or corporations to buy political influence, especially in this case with the White House or Republican members of Congress. Federal government projects are nearly always funded entirely publicly, for the reason that contributions from the public en masse not only provide more of an 'all in' approach, but also help prevent nepotism or favoritism in the process.”
Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) introduced a nearly identical bill, the Border Wall Trust Fund Act, in the previous Congress. That bill would have allowed individual donors to donate to border wall construction. That bill had 11 cosponsors, all of whom were Republicans.
Of Note: Private donations have funded other public works projects, including the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, FDR Memorial, World War II Memorial, George Mason Memorial, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial.
In early December, President Trump threatened a government shutdown if Congress doesn’t approve his requested $5 billion for wall construction as part of the federal spending package due by December 7. Senate Democrats have only agreed to fund $1.6 billion, less than a third of what Trump is asking for.
Earlier in 2018, Democrats offered to fully fund the wall in exchange for granting citizenship to 1.8 million DREAMers, or children of undocumented immigrants. President Trump and Republicans rejected the offer. With Democrats about to take over the House, the odds of publicly funding the wall fully or even partially just plummeted.
A June 2018 Gallup poll found that the majority (57%) of respondents opposed a border wall, and a large majority (83%) favor giving immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children a path to citizenship. Only 41% of respondents were in favor of building a border wall.
- Sponsoring Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) Twitter (Current Congress)
- Sponsoring Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) Press Release (Previous Congress)
- Robert Peters, et. al. in BioScience (Opposed)
- Signatories to “Nature Divided, Scientists United” Article in BioScience (Opposed)
- ACLU and Others - Coalition Letter to Congress (Opposed)
- Border Wall Trust Fund Act (Similar Bill)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStock / Sherry Smith)