Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is introducing a bill to allow assets seized from drug lords, like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, to fund President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Ted Cruz’s bill, the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order Act, also known as the “El Chapo Act,” is a reference to the Mexican drug kingpin from the Sinaloa cartel.
The U.S. government is seeking $14 billion from the drug lord as part of its prosecution of Guzman.
“Fourteen billion dollars will go a long way toward building a wall that will keep Americans safe and hinder the illegal flow of drugs, weapons and individuals across our southern border,” Cruz said Tuesday, according to Axios.
Guzman was extradited from Mexico to the U.S. in January, pleading not guilty to a 17-charge indictment in a federal court in New York.
The charges allege that Guzman led a continuing criminal enterprise responsible for drug trafficking and conspiracy between 1989 and 2014.
The U.S. government routinely seizes assets from alleged drug dealers and traffickers.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced similar legislation in February, the BuildWall Act, which would allow money forfeited from drug traffickers to improve border security, including a wall.
Cruz’s bill comes as the White House pushes for funding to begin work on the border wall.
Last week, officials suggested they would want to see some funds in an upcoming spending bill lawmakers must pass to avoid a government shutdown on Friday.
That put Trump at odds with Democrats who strongly oppose the wall, and with Republican congressional leaders who worried a fight over funding the initiative could stall the spending bill and lead to a politically costly shutdown.
But Trump on Monday said he is open to getting funding for the wall this fall.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday a deal for averting a government shutdown would be possible if Trump dropped his demand for wall funding.
“If the threat of the wall is removed … our negotiations can continue and we can hopefully resolve all of the outstanding issues by Friday,” he said from the Senate floor.