WASHINGTON — As a winter storm grips the east coast and snarls air travel, House leaders are delaying votes on a border security bill calling for increased aircraft patrols.
With more than a foot of snow expected in some parts of the northeast, House GOP leaders on Monday afternoon issued a revised schedule for the week. It does not mention H.R. 399, a border-security bill approved last week by the chamber's Committee on Homeland Security.
A schedule released Monday morning, however, listed the measure as hitting the floor Wednesday.
"The bill provides sector-by-sector analysis of threats and needs on the border and attaches to that the resources necessary to gain operational control," according to a committee summary. "This includes the allocation of technology capabilities in each sector along the southern border, the construction and replacement of fencing and access roads, and additional flight hours."
The bill could deliver some new business to US defense and aerospace firms.
One section calls for the secretary of homeland security to send lawmakers "a plan for the Department of Homeland Security to acquire and deploy aviation capabilities ... along the southern land border of the United States."
The same part of the legislation would require the secretary to begin buying and deploying aircraft purchased under that plan.
Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute, who also advises major defense firms, puts the amount of business those companies do with DHS in the billions.
"Coast Guard cutters and aircraft alone would probably approach $1 billion annually," Thompson said recently.
Evidence surfaced later Monday that suggested GOP leaders pulled the bill due to on exiting from their most conservative members and like-minded outside groups.
For instance, the influential political wing of the Heritage Foundation applauded the move.
"The McCaul border bill had become a shiny object, distracting nearly everyone in Washington from the fight over the President's dangerous and unlawful amnesty," Heritage Action's Dan Heller said in a statement. "The House was right to pull the bill.
"Congress must reassert its constitutional authority over the executive branch," Heller said. " Advancing any immigration measure, even border security, before reining in this lawless president is putting the cart before the horse."