The South Dakota Senate divided along party lines Thursday in adopting a resolution symbolically supporting President Trump’s call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
It first needed amending before every Republican could accept the non-binding measure whose prime sponsor was Senator Stace Nelson, R-Fulton.
Senator Jim Bolin, R-Canton, stripped out language referring to the effectiveness of the Great Wall of China and modern walls in Hungary and Israel. He also eliminated references to economic effects of illegal aliens in the United States.
Bolin also took out any reference to a wall and instead inserted “steel barriers and border control impediments along with the strengthening of current border control infrastructure.”.
Then the retired educator gave a history lesson, pointing out the follies of nations that erected walls as protection only to see their enemies find other ways to enter, such as Germany overrunning France in 1940 by going around the Maginot Line.
“The point I’m trying to make here is this particular section, there are references to particular walls, and I would like to have that section deleted out, because again I do not believe walls by themselves, and I use my words carefully there, walls by themselves will not protect any particular society,” Bolin said.
Nelson accepted the changes but didn’t fully agree with them.
“As someone’s who’s worked a long time in secured environments, in military installations and US embassies, I can assure that walls are instrumental in providing hardened security,” Nelson said.
A past candidate for governor supported the amendment but wouldn’t support the final bill.
Senator Susan Wismer, D-Britton, said: “It removes some of the inaccuracies, certainly not all of them. I’m sorry that my first vote on the Senate floor will be about an issue that is essentially a campaign chant gone viral.”
Bolin’s amendment passed 20 to 13 with nearly half of the Republicans against it including Nelson.
Nelson had sat alone in the Senate chamber while Republicans and Democrats held their separate mid-day caucus meetings. He reportedly isn’t allowed in the Senate Republican caucus in the 2019 session because of the argumentive personality that’s erupted at various times in past years.
Senator Lance Russell, R-Hot Springs, disagreed with the thrust of what Bolin had done.
“What the president is talking about is having a wall the entire length from the ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, and I think we need to be supporting him in that endeavor,” Russell said.
Responded Senator Craig Kennedy, D-Yankton: “This is pure politics. And we see what this political posturing has resulted in in Washington D.C.”
The Senate voted 28 to 5 — all Republicans in favor and all Democrats against — to send the resolution next to the House of Representatives.