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Speaking From Texas, Mass. Rep. Neal Dubious About Border Wall

Rep. Neal visits the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Friday.
Office of Rep. Neal
Rep. Neal visits the U.S.-Mexico border in Texas on Friday.

Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal was part of a delegation that visited the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday. The ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee says he is doubtful about the border wall President Trump has proposed — raising concerns about both the cost and effectiveness of a wall along the 1,900-mile border.

"I didn't see anything today that would have me change my mind," Neal said. "I also think that the contentious issue of border security....nonetheless could be alleviated if we could reach comprehensive immigration reform in Congress."

Speaking with reporters from Brownsville, Texas, Neal said the Trump campaign was fueled by anti-immigrant rhetoric, but Republicans now have their doubts about the president's signature campaign promise: building the wall.

"There's also a good deal of consternation now amongst Republicans, No. 1 as to whether building a wall is constituted and secondly, the expense of building one, understanding that MIT has estimated that the wall could cost up to $40 billion, with no guarantee of success."

Neal also looked ahead to Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, which will be carried live on WAMC.

"I think we're all going to be sitting there wondering what might be said," Neal said. "I hope that the press will be allowed to cover it, to begin with. Secondly, if there's one penchant that we've all noticed, it's that the press does not speak in anything other than absolutes. It's either all great or it's all bad, so there's very little nuance. And I would hope that there would be a chance, here for him by the way, to talk about some of the pressing needs America has as well, where we might find an avenue of cooperation, including infrastructure and tax reform. And I think that if we could put aside the great emotion that the administration uses in dealing with very serious problems every day that need to be addressed."

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