A Republican state senator in Montana is proposing to give more than $8 million to help build President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the Mexican border, while South Dakota senators voted Thursday to endorse the president’s plans.
As Trump traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border Thursday to make his case for $5.7 billion to build the wall in the government shutdown’s 20th day, some state lawmakers are backing him up with their own legislation, although the efforts are mostly symbolic.
The resolution passed in the South Dakota Senate simply urges construction of a steel barrier.
The separate $8 million proposal in Montana could be vetoed by a Democratic governor who is exploring a run for president.
Scott Sales, a fiscally conservative Republican who leads the Montana Senate, says his proposal is a “small token” to show border security “is of vital interest to all citizens regardless of what state they live in.”
“Congress is basically dragging their heels over $5 billion, which is really trivial compared to what we spend on an annual basis,” he said Wednesday in explaining his funding proposal.
Sales said he calculated Montana’s “share” of the cost of the wall by dividing the state’s gross domestic product by the national GDP and multiplying it by $5.7 billion.
Montana’s $8 million wouldn’t go very far, with Trump’s $5.7 billion request expected to build 234 miles of wall.
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said of Sales, “I don’t know that he has ever strongly advocated for or supported infrastructure investments in Montana, so it’s a little bit of a puzzle for me why he would even consider spending taxpayer dollars on construction projects in California.”
Bullock, who said $8 million would go a long way to fund health care or infrastructure work in Montana, declined to say whether he’d veto the bill if it landed on his desk.
Another Democrat, House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner, said the Legislature should focus its spending on Montana’s roads, building, water and sewer projects.
“That’s a lot of school roofs and boilers,” added Democratic Rep. Laurie Bishop.
Montana, where Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 20 points, shares a 545-mile border with Canada, where there is no wall.
Sales also has sponsored a resolution that would ask Congress to act on the funding.
If the stalemate in Washington continues, the president said he’s willing to consider declaring a national emergency, which he says would allow him to direct the military to begin building the wall.
The Western Journal has reviewed this Associated Press story and may have altered it prior to publication to ensure that it meets our editorial standards.
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