This opinion column was originally written for and published in the Washington Examiner.
Serving in “the people’s house,” my fellow representatives and I have a particularly direct charge: As the closest federal branch to the public, we in particular should reflect the will of the public in our actions.
While some important progress has been made in the past two years under the leadership of President Trump and a unified Republican government, like the historic overhaul of our tax system with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, we have also dragged our feet, and there’s still a lot to deliver on other key campaign promises.
Republicans lost the House in November because our actions during the 115th Congress did not reflect the words we spoke when we campaigned during the 2016 election cycle. With only a handful of legislative business days left on the books, we have one final chance to live up to the promise that we made to the parents, small business owners, blue-collar workers, farmers, teachers, and ordinary people who helped us gain control in the first place.
Simply put, it’s time to build the wall.
Immigration is a tough issue, but we received a clear directive in 2016 when the people elected Trump and endorsed his immigration platform out of a wide field of qualified candidates. Hardworking people are tired of our laws being flouted and ignored while our prized tax dollars go to pay for people who don’t follow the rules and skip the line to come to our country. Americans are compassionate, but no one likes it when their compassion is taken for granted or abused.
That’s what is currently happening with the migrant caravan at our southern border. Thousands of illegal immigrants are insulting the hardworking people who immigrated legally by ignoring our laws and trying to force entry into our country.
We’re in the final stretch of this session of Congress, and the sense of urgency to stand up and deliver for legal immigrants and our frustrated constituents has never been greater. Earlier this fall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., promised that we would fight for wall funding in the lame duck session — no matter the outcome of the 2018 midterms.
Yet, here we are, with only days left in the year, still relitigating the 2016 election.
Republicans only hold a unified government for two more weeks. Through the upcoming government funding bill, Congress must fund the border wall and end catch-and-release policies that have fueled illegal immigration practices and encouraged hundreds of thousands to try and circumvent our laws every year. Moreover, this must be accomplished before Congress leaves for Christmas.
Some may try to convince Trump that Congress has merely run out of time to fight for his immigration priorities. That’s just not the case. Legislation to fund the construction of the border wall is written and has been introduced. The measure simply needs to be attached to the next spending vehicle. While no one wants a repeat of January's Schumer Shutdown over immigration, the leverage is in the president’s hands. Remember, the troops are funded, retirees will continue receiving their paychecks, and now the Trump administration has the ability to close the border, alter immigration and asylum services, and wait until enough Senate Democrats actually come to the table and provide him the money needed to build the wall.
The time for half measures is gone. The time for anything other than doing what we said is over. This is the last chance we have to change the status quo. If not now, then we will be squandering yet another opportunity under our unified government, while breaking the trust of the forgotten men and women who we promised to represent — perhaps for good.
Congressman Jody Hice is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, serving in his second term and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and House Natural Resources Committee. He is also a member of the board of the House Freedom Caucus.