Montana Senate leader wants to help fund border wall

State Sen. Scott Sales wants to send $8 million to help fund the border wall. (Photo: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

State Sen. Scott Sales, president of the Montana Senate, submitted two bills for drafting on Tuesday. One bill is a resolution declaring Montana’s support for President Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border. The other would send $8 million to Washington to help actually build the wall.

“I thought since Congress won't do anything, maybe it's time for the states to step up and try to get something done,” said Sales. He says he determined $8 million is Montana’s fair share of the cost for the wall based on our GDP compared to that of the nation.

Trump wants Congress to approve $5.7 billion to fund building the border wall. Democrats say they will not approve the $5.7 billion Trump wants to build the wall. Deadlocked over the wall, the government is still shut down.

“We as Montanans benefit greatly -- about 40-plus percent of our budget is federal dollars. The least we can do to try to get Congress off their dime is show that we're serious about this border security,” said Sales.

But Democrats in Helena were quick to denounce Sales’ plan, though the bills are still being drafted.

“I feel like it's completely irresponsible and tone deaf. We should focus on actually being able to pass a bill that will build things in Montana before we worry about political games and partisanship based on federal talking points,” said State Rep. Casey Schreiner, House minority leader.

He and other Democrats say there are plenty of other ways to spend $8 million here in Montana

“I can tell you it would replace a number of boilers in schools across our state and a number of roofs in educational institutions,” said Schreiner. “I think the working majority of this legislature will see it for what it is, which is a political game, and we're going to hopefully set it aside and get back to the real work.”

Sales says he believes the bills have a good chance of being passed. They should be complete and ready for official debate early next week.

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