WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill allowing the U.S. Border Patrol to ignore 16 environmental laws on federal lands within 100 miles of Canada or Mexico.
Party lines were crossed in 232-188 House vote. Sixteen Democrats voted for the bill, while 19 Republicans voted against the bill. The bill now move on to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
If passed, the new law would allow the Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security to build roads where none exist, construct fences and bases, and drive vehicles in wilderness areas to protect international borders.
The Border Patrol would only use those powers when needed to prevent illegal activities at the border, one official source says.
Several police organizations supported the law, including the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers and the National Border Patrol Council. But environmental groups say the bill attacks the environmental laws the Republican-controlled House hopes to compromise.
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