Latta: $5.7 billion will pay for more than a wall

Congressman Bob Latta speaks before fundraiser earlier this year.


BG Independent News

U.S. Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio) is standing behind President Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to fund border security.

That money, Latta contends, isn’t just for a wall.

Latta, in an interview Thursday, called the proposal multi-layered, and said Trump “is willing to negotiate.”

It’s the Democratic leadership that’s not putting a counter proposal on the table, and that’s what’s needed to move toward an end to the stalemate that has idled some federal workers, while others are working without pay. National parks, if open, are filling with trash while assistance to farmers and those eligible for SNAP benefits are endangered as the partial federal government shutdown drags on. Latta said he has not collected his pay since the beginning of the shutdown.

Latta described the $5.7 million as “a multilayered approach,” not “just a contiguous wall.”

He said the plan would construct about 250 miles of barriers. 

It would also pay to construct all-weather roads and purchase technology, including sensors and cameras. “It’s not just for one thing.”

Most importantly, he said, it would pay for the personnel needed to guard the border.

Latta praised those federal agents working on the border. Based on a trip to the border last July, he was impressed how they handled those coming over.

He described a former big box store that has been transformed to house immigrants. Conditions on the border, he said, need to be addressed.

A funding bill passed by the House, once the Democrats took control, did not have adequate funding, so he voted against it. The bill went nowhere because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to take it up, saying Trump would veto it.

It was “a show piece,” Latta said.

The Bowling Green Republican said that in the past prominent Democrats such as then Senator Barack Obama, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and current Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer backed a wall. That’s a reference to 2006 legislation that called for  fencing along the border, which Schumer and Obama did support, though Pelosi did not. Those barriers were built.

As Latta noted in an interview before the November election, he believes there’s a lot of bipartisan cooperation that doesn’t get attention.

On Dec. 31 a bill that he sponsored intended to find ways to combat vehicular terrorism was signed by Trump after bipartisan support in the House and Senate.

He also cited legislation on providing more broadband service to rural areas to support precision agriculture, cyber security, and the recently passed farm bill as examples of legislators working across the aisle.

Currently he’s working with U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan) on self-driving vehicle legislation. It’s important that the United States develop this technology and not let China become the dominant player.

Ohio has a facility for testing autonomous vehicles. “We want that technology developed here in the state of Ohio,” Latta said.

“These are not partisan issues.”

Latta said he’s an optimist and believes the partial shutdown could be ended if the two sides did sit down to negotiate. “We’re not seeing that happen right now. … You have to come up with something to put on the table,” he said. “We’re just going to keep working.”