Senator Lara Joins U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife to Condemn Congress’ Border Wall Vote

July 27, 2017

Senate Bill 30 would give California a tool to fight for taxpayers and oppose environmentally destructive border wall expansion

SACRAMENTO, CA – Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) joined U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) and environmental groups Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife to condemn Congress’ plan to approve $1.6 billion in funding for the border wall.

Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California tweeted on July 18 that “the House will vote to build the wall.”

“Despite Trump’s pledges that Mexico will pay for the wall, it will be American taxpayers who are on the hook, and Californians who will pay the price of this wasteful project,” said Senator Ricardo Lara, author of Senate Bill 30, the Fight for California Taxpayers Act. “Some of my colleagues in the California Legislature have said that Trump’s wall will never be built. But the federal government is racing toward economic isolation and environmental destruction and California is in the bulldozer path.”

“I am outraged at the addition of $1.6 billion of unnecessary and unwarranted border wall funding to a so-called security ‘minibus’ spending bill,” said Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, the ranking Democratic member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. “The majority party is playing a cynical political game with our national security.”

"Funding the border wall will harm the environment, people and the economy. It will create barriers for threatened and endangered animals that could accelerate their extinction,” said Sierra Club California Director Kathryn Phillips. “In reality and symbolically, funding the wall will divide people from one another and fritter away precious taxpayer dollars. The border wall is simply a bad idea that Congress should and must reject.”

“Funding the expansion of the southern border wall is completely irresponsible. For the House leadership in Washington to then enact a rule that takes the entire defense spending bill hostage to help the president fulfill his personal agenda is disgraceful,” said Bob Dreher, Senior Vice President of Conservation Programs at Defenders of Wildlife. “There are many programs and communities deserving of federal funding, but the expansion of the border wall, which will divide families along the border, bisect important landscapes and push endangered species to the brink of extinction, is not one of them. The American people deserve better from their leaders.”

Sierra Club California and Defenders of Wildlife have endorsed Senate Bill 30, which would prevent the state of California from entering or renewing a contract with a company that accepts a federal contract related to President Trump’s border wall. Senator Lara announced on July 17 that Senate Bill 30 would become a two-year bill eligible for a vote in the 2018 session if Congress moves forward with construction of another border wall.

Senator Lara has proposed amendments to make clear that the Senate Bill 30 contracting ban is directed at prime contractors, which are some of the biggest companies in the world, not at small California businesses.

“I don’t want to look back in 10 years and say Californians didn’t do everything we could to block the wall,” said Senator Lara.

Facts about Trump’s border wall plan

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency announced in June that building could start as soon as summer 2017 in San Diego. President Trump has requested $2.6 billion, and Congress introduced legislation to appropriate $1.6 billion to start construction.

Estimates show Trump’s wall plan could cost $70 billion, nearly three times the $26 billion annual value of California’s exports to Mexico, which make up 17.4 percent of the state’s total exports.

Trump’s border wall will likely be a taxpayer handout to connected Washington companies. The firms qualified to bid on the last border wall expansion, the Secure Border Initiative in 2006, included the #1, 2, 3, and 5 top recipients of federal contracts. The prime contractor awarded the contract had $20.4 billion in total contracts that year. The Trump administration has not released the names of firms qualified to bid.

The Senate Bill 30 contracting ban is directed at the largest prime contractors, not at small California-based business as opponents have portrayed. Senator Lara announced he would amend the bill to reflect the intent to hold the world’s biggest companies accountable. 

Trump admitted that border walls and natural barriers already exist along much of the border.

The California Legislature recently approved $50 billion in road and freeway construction funds, and companies who do not work on Trump’s border wall would be eligible for those contracts.

Senate Bill 30’s state contracting ban applies only to companies that work on the proposed wall, not to those that have worked on border fence projects in the past.