Senate Republicans accused President Joe Biden of breaking federal budget law when he ordered a halt to construction of a southern border wall and say the action contributed to a surge in illegal border crossings.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and 39 other Republicans wrote a letter to the Government Accountability Office on Wednesday seeking an investigation into the president’s actions, which they allege violated a 1974 act forbidding the executive branch from refusing to spend money appropriated by Congress.
“On Jan. 20, in one of the first official acts of his presidency, Joseph Biden suspended border wall construction and ordered a freeze of funds provided by Congress for that purpose. In the weeks that followed, operational control of our southern border was compromised and a humanitarian and national security crisis has ensued,” the letter states. “The President’s actions directly contributed to this unfortunate, yet entirely avoidable scenario. They are also a blatant violation of federal law and infringe on Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.”
The letter was organized by West Virginia’s Shelley Moore Capito, the top Republican on the Homeland Security spending panel. It asks GAO head Gene Dodaro to issue a legal opinion on whether the Impoundment Control Act was violated.
The fiscal 2021 spending bill that Congress passed in December has $1.4 billion for border wall and related spending.
In 2019, President Donald Trump transferred money earmarked for military construction to be used instead for building the border wall. A federal appeals court last year found the transfer illegal.
Republicans this week have focused on the surge of migrants crossing the U.S. border from Mexico, with lawmakers traveling to the region to highlight the issue. Biden has ordered federal disaster officials to the area to handle the surge, while Democrats have said that border crossings remained at roughly the same level during the Trump administration. They also have argued that the border wall is ineffective.