This is a developing story that will be updated.
A group of Republican lawmakers in the West Virginia House of Delegates have announced a plan to introduce a bill that would divert $10 million from the state’s current surplus to help President Donald Trump build a wall along the southern U.S. border.
Dels. Caleb Hanna, Patrick Martin and Carl “Robbie” Martin made the announcement Tuesday.
In a news release, the lawmakers cite the nation’s drug epidemic as their motivation for supporting a border wall.
“West Virginians support our President and the wall,” stated Del. Carl Martin. “They’re sick of seeing Washington politicians sit on their hands while drugs and criminals pour over our border. It’s time for the states to stand up and do what they can to support our President in his fight to protect innocent Americans.”
Hanna, who is the nation’s youngest African-American lawmaker ever, first announced the planned bill in a Tuesday morning appearance on Fox & Friends.
“I believe in President Trump and the wall,” Hanna said in a news release following his network television interview. “For me, this is no different than sending our National Guard to the border or overseas to protect U.S. interests. We, as a state, have resources available to help make America more secure, and I believe West Virginians would want those resources used to make us more safe.”
Championed by Trump and opposed by congressional Democrats, the wall is at the heart of a partial federal government shutdown -- the longest in national history now in its 25th day as of Tuesday.
A recent poll by Orion Strategies shows a majority of West Virginians are in favor of the proposed border wall.
When asked asked if believe that the United States should spend $5 billion to erect a wall on the border with Mexico, 56 percent of West Virginia voters said yes. Only 38 percent said no, with six percent undecided.
One ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee criticized the GOP lawmakers' idea.
“It's just nonsense -- just grandstanding. I mean, we’ve got real serious problems in West Virginia. You know, I can think of 20 things to do with $10 million that would be better spent in West Virginia on West Virginia problems than some mythical attempt to try to draw media,” said House Finance Minority Chair Mick Bates. “I chalk it up to inexperience.”
You people should be ashamed of yourselves. This is a slap in faces of every hard working West Virginian. How exactly will this help WV?
— Patrick has resistance issues✊ (@the_rev_zofo) January 15, 2019