President Donald Trump’s border wall is continuing to crumble, at least on Capitol Hill.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and three other Senate Republicans rolled out legislation on Thursday making it clear that a standalone wall running the length of the U.S.-Mexico border—a core Trump campaign promise—isn’t the answer.
The legislation, called Building America’s Trust Act, would allot $15 billion over four years for what its backers call “smart, multi-layered infrastructure” along the southern border. That may include a wall, fence, levees, technology or other barriers, according to a summary of the bill.
“The Border Patrol, in particular, risk their lives every day to keep us safe," Cornyn said at a press conference announcing the plan. "It’s really inexcusable that they don’t have either the policies in place or the resources to get that done.”
Trump’s call for a border wall has faced a stiff resistance in Congress, with Democrats opposing the idea and border-state Republicans uneager to accommodate a demand that could wreak havoc on communities and commerce along the border.
But Trump may still insist that funding for the border wall be included in any must-pass government spending measure due by the end of September, provoking a potential government shutdown. The House last week passed a defense spending package that included money to build about 70 miles of barriers along the southern border, which Republican leaders called a “down payment” for a border wall.
Other chief Republican sponsors of the Senate bill include Sens. John Barrasso of Wyoming, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, all of whom joined Cornyn on Thursday at the press event.
Cornyn said the lawmakers sought input from federal officials to craft the measure. “We worked very closely with the Department of Homeland Security to get both substantive and technical suggestions, and this bill incorporates that,” he said.
The Texas Republican stopped short of saying Trump backs the measure, but sounded optimistic. “With this president in the White House, we think we have an ally who will help us,” he said.
Neither the White House nor Homeland Security Department immediately responded to a request for comment.
The proposal has already been endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and the Southwest Border Sheriffs Coalition, among other law enforcement organizations.
It would boost resources for ports of entry along the border while increasing the number of Border Patrol and immigration officers.
Cornyn fielded several questions Thursday about the president’s campaign promise to have Mexico pay for a border wall.
“We’re used to Congress appropriating the money," Cornyn said. "We’ll leave it to the president and his plan for how we recoup that at some point.”
The Senate majority whip also blurred the line between a "wall" and the mix of border security measures outlined in his legislation.
“The idea of physical infrastructure or walls is not novel," he said, pointing to a photo of a bollard-style fence with a concrete base. "President Trump didn’t dream that up.”
In addition to border infrastructure, the bill would tackle interior enforcement and aim to pressure so-called sanctuary cities to cooperate with federal immigration officials.
To discourage repeat border crossers, the legislation would incorporate Kate’s Law, a measure that would increase penalties for immigrants who re-enter the country after a deportation.
At the press conference, Tillis argued immigrant advocates should also favor the type of border security laid out in their bill, the text of which was expected to become available later in the day.
“If you’re against the wall, if you’re in the group of people that think we need bridges not borders," the senator said, "think of the humanitarian crisis that will continue if we don’t increase situational awareness and operational control down there.”