The House Homeland Security Committee voted Oct. 4 in favor of a bill that would make $10 billion available for the construction of a border wall with Mexico.
The vote, which followed the Republican rejection of all Democratic-proposed amendments, means that the GOP can now put the bill to a vote in the House, the Washington Examiner reported.
The $10 billion could be used for constructing walls and fencing along the border. An additional $5 billion would be made available for improving ports of entry. The measure also calls for the hiring of 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 5,000 Customs and Border Protection officers.
"We have been talking about border security for so many years and now we finally have a chance to get this done," said Republican Rep. Michael McCaul, the committee's chairman, according to the Examiner. "We finally have a partner in the White House who has prioritized this issue. It's time for Congress to do its part and get this done."
The move is a step towards the implementation of President Donald Trump's election promise to build a wall on the Mexican border. In September, Trump unexpectedly agreed to a debt-ceiling compromise with Democrats that did not include funding for the wall.
Democrats criticized the House committee's decision.
"It is a $15 billion boondoggle that abandons past bipartisan efforts to stop throwing money at the border in an ad-hoc way in favor of strategically deploying resources," Rep. Bennie Thompson told the committee.
Democrats also argued that building a wall would endanger the habitat in a Texas wildlife park.
In an amendment, Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela tried to point out that the structures planned for construction under the bill are not the same as what Trump promised during the election. The amendment called for the wall to be "big and beautiful," "real," "inclusive of a door," and "paid for by the Mexican government," according to The Hill.
The bill would be unlikely to succeed in the Senate, where it would need 60 votes to pass.
It remains unclear when Republicans will decide to bring the bill to a vote. One option reportedly being considered is attaching the measure to legislation aimed at protecting recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which Trump rescinded in September. Trump has indicated he would support doing so.
Democrats are aware that Republicans are pursuing such a plan.
"This is a setup for that conversation," Rep. Nanette Baragan said.