Republican Senator Ted Cruz has introduced a bill calling on the US government to use assets seized from a Mexican drug lord to help fund Donald Trump’s border wall.
The “El Chapo” Act is a reference to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, according to Cruz’s Senate page.
Guzman is to face charges after being extradited to the US and prosecutors are also seeking to obtain $14 billion in assets from the drug lord, who formerly headed the powerful Sinaloa cartel.
“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons, and individuals across our southern border,” Cruz said, according to his Senate page. “Ensuring the safety and security of Texans is one of my top priorities. We must also be mindful of the impact on the federal budget. By leveraging any criminally forfeited assets of El Chapo and his ilk, we can offset the wall’s cost and make meaningful progress toward achieving President Trump’s stated border security objectives.”
Cruz’s measure resembles an initiative in February by Republican Representative Jim Sensenbrenner, the BuildWall Act. Sensenbrenner’s bill called for funds forfeited from drug traffickers to be used to strengthen border security.
The White House is currently facing problems in obtaining funding for the wall. Trump initially declared that Mexico would pay for its construction, but he has now accepted that congressional approval for funding will be necessary.
Republicans and Democrats have to agree on a spending bill by April 28 to prevent a government shutdown. Democrats had vowed to block any measure that includes funding for the wall, but President Trump has indicated that he would be ready to wait until the fall to secure the money.
“If the threat of the wall is removed … our negotiations can continue and we can hopefully resolve all of the outstanding issues by Friday,” Democratic Senator and Minority Leader Charles Schumer said, according to the Hill.
Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell added April 25 that talks were proceeding well, noting that he believed the talks would result in “an agreement in the next few days,” Time reported.
Trump faces opposition from some Republicans as well as Democrats to the building of the wall.
“I support additional border security funding,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said. “But a 2,200-mile wall, I don’t think there’s a whole lot of support for it.”
However, Trump remains defiant.
“The wall is going to get built,” he said April 25. Asked when, Trump responded, “Soon.”
Sources: Senator Ted Cruz, the Hill, Time/ photo credit: Michael Vadon/Wikimedia Commons