Congress Not Bound to Fund Future Border Security Promises
Members of Congress who promise that money will be spent on efforts to secure the border conveniently withhold the fact that one Congress cannot bind a future Congress to appropriate funds mandated by already established laws. Such a practice is known as legislative entrenchment and courts have long upheld this position. If a future Congress does not want to appropriate funds to hire more border agents or build 700 miles of fencing, those lawmakers can opt not to appropriate funds for the effort.
Advocates of the Senate’s immigration bill point to different provisions in the bill that would ensure border security through the proposed Corker- Hoeven amendment. They claim $40 billion over ten years will be mandated to be spent on 700 miles of border fencing, 20,000 additional border agents, and an immigrant worker E-verify system among other measures.
This issue is playing out with the new health care law. The House of Representatives hold the purse strings to financing any program with tax payer dollars and that is why there are repeated congressional threats to de-fund Obamacare.
The House majority has changed parties three times, while party control in the Senate has flipped seven times since the American people heard congressional promises from the 1986 amnesty law, 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform law, and the 2006 Secure Fence Act.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has pointed out that while current immigration bill supporters tout that 20,000 additional border agents will be mandated by the Corker-Hoeven amendment, these agents will not be hired by DHS until 2017. Like so many instances before, the 115th Congress could decide that hiring more border security agents is unnecessary on the list of appropriation considerations.