The Government Accountability Office already rejected Republicans' argument that delaying the border wall was illegal.
Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert and 23 other House Republicans introduced a resolution on Wednesday to censure President Joe Biden for ending his predecessor's immigration policies. But in doing so they inadvertently admitted that former President Donald Trump broke the law when he tried to pressure Ukraine into announcing it was investigating his political opponents in 2019.
The proposed resolution would express the House of Representatives' "disapproval of the failure to uphold the constitutional duty to 'take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed' and the usurpation of the legislative authority of Congress by the President of the United States."
"My censure bill holds President Biden accountable for his actions—or lack thereof—at the border," Boebert said in a press release.
"When I went to the border, I saw unused materials that had already been contracted for lying by open gates and parts of the unfinished wall," said co-sponsor Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), "the result of President Biden's illogical and wasteful decision to immediately stop all construction on the wall."
The resolution suggests a government watchdog had indicated that Biden's decision to freeze construction of Trump's massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was not legal. It cites a January 2020 decision by the Government Accountability Office, the nonpartisan investigative arm of Congress, that "faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law," implying that it applies to Biden's actions.
But that report was actually about illegal actions taken by Trump, who in the summer of 2019 blocked the allocation of security funding appropriated by Congress to Ukraine in an unsuccessful attempt to pressure that country's government to dig up dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Those actions led to charges on which he was impeached for the first time, in December of that year. He was then acquitted by the Senate when nearly every Republican voted against conviction.
Boebert, a reliable Trump defender who called the impeachment "baseless" last July, acknowledges in her resolution that the agency determined "that the previous administration's temporary withholding of foreign aid funds was not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act."
But her assertion that Biden "may have violated the Impoundment Control Act, in directing that no funds Congress had appropriated to build the border wall would be spent on building the wall" has already been rejected by the same agency.
In a June 15 ruling, the GAO said that the Biden administration's actions were "programmatic delays, not impoundments," and were thus not comparable to Trump's actions. Biden halted construction of the wall shortly after taking office in January to allow time for a review of the project.
DHS and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have shown that the use of funds is delayed in order to perform environmental reviews and consult with various stakeholders, as required by law, and determine project funding needs in light of changes that warrant using funds differently than initially planned. As explained below, because the delay here is precipitated by legal requirements, the delay is distinguishable from the withholding of Ukraine security assistance funds.
In addition to censuring Biden, the resolution calls on him to fire Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas and replace with someone who will "faithfully enforce the laws."
Trump forced out Kirstjen Nielsen, his first Homeland Security secretary, in April 2019, reportedly upset that she would not violate the law to comply with his demands on how to deal with immigrants and asylum-seekers.
He spent the remainder of his term cycling through acting secretaries. The longest-serving of those, Chad Wolf, spent more than a year in the position. In November 2020, a federal judge ruled he had been illegally installed and his actions in the job had thus been unlawful. The Government Accountability Office issued its own determination earlier that year that Wolf's temporary appointment violated the Vacancies Reform Act and was thus illegal.
In addition to Griffith, the censure resolution's co-sponsors include Reps. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Ronny Jackson of Texas, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, and Chip Roy of Texas.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.