Congress grants $380 million in border security funding to Middle Eastern countries

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The massive spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden last month continues a years-long tradition of earmarking significant amounts of money for border security in a number of Middle Eastern countries – just as a fight over how best to secure the U.S. border is still ongoing.

The $1.2 trillion package, which includes funding for defense and homeland security among other agencies, includes an appropriation for $380 million that is to remain available until September 2025 to reimburse Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Tunisia and Oman for “enhanced border security.” Of that, $150 million is specifically dedicated to Jordan.

It’s an inclusion that has been in a number of omnibus budgets in recent years and upset a number of Republicans, who see it as wasteful and coming at a time when some Democrats are wary of spending money on border walls and similar measures at the U.S. southern border. 

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“But you see them running this thing through by dark of night with billions in things that – they’re doing border security in foreign countries, and they’re impeding border security in our country,” Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said in 2022.

Migrants attempt to cross the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on March 3, 2024. (Lokman Vural Elibol/Anadolu via Getty Images)

The spending package won bipartisan votes in both houses of Congress to avert a government shutdown, but sparked significant conservative opposition. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., filed a motion to vacate Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., as House speaker, accusing him of having “betrayed” the “confidence” of the House GOP Conference by ushering through the legislation.

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It comes not only during a historic migrant crisis at the southern border, with a record February for migrant encounters, but also as Congress is unable to agree on how to secure the border and limit the number of migrants coming to it.

The Biden administration has called for the passage of a bipartisan border funding bill that was negotiated earlier this year and includes additional border funding, including staffing, technology, money for NGOs and communities receiving migrants, and a temporary mechanism to stop entries if migrant encounters breached 5,000 a day. Conservatives have said it would normalize already excessive levels of illegal immigration.

The administration and Democrats have said they are dealing with a historic hemisphere-wide crisis, but the immigration system is broken and needs funding and reform.

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Republicans, however, have said the crisis has been caused by the reversal of successful Trump-era policies by the Biden administration, including border wall construction, the Remain-in-Mexico policy and broader interior enforcement.

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In the House, Republicans have passed their own border security and asylum bill, H.R. 2, which would provide additional funding, including for the restarting of border wall construction, as well as reforms to drastically limit entries into the interior of the United States.

Fox News’ Liz Elkind contributed to this report. 



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