A West Virginia teen has become the nation’s youngest African-American legislator, and in one of his first legislative acts, the young Republican is proposing his state chip in funds to help build President Donald Trump’s wall on the southern border.
Caleb Hanna, a 19-year-old college student studying economics who still lives in his dorm at West Virginia State University, has co-sponsored a bill in the state House of Delegates to send $10 million of the state’s $186 million budget surplus to help build the wall.
“The West Virginia Republican majority in the House has been very supportive of President Trump and his efforts to secure the southern border,” Hanna said Wednesday on “Fox & Friends.” In telling the hosts about his plan, Hanna rounded the surplus up to $200 million.
Hanna told the Fox News hosts that he was inspired to enter politics by the victory of former President Barack Obama, but he clarified it was “strictly because of the fact he was African-American. It had nothing to do with his policies,” which he blamed for his father losing his job as a coal miner.
Hanna said he joined the GOP because there were “three things the Republicans stood for that the Democrats didn’t, and that was God, guns and babies.”
Trump is seeking $5.7 billion to fund the wall’s construction, but congressional Democrats’ have refused to appropriate the money, leading to a stalemate and a 26-day partial government shutdown affecting about 800,000 federal employees. On Saturday, it became the longest shutdown in U.S. history.
Last week, a Republican lawmaker in Montana proposed giving more than $8 million for the wall but that state’s Democratic governor is likely to veto the legislation if it is approved.
Hanna’s Republican co-sponsors on the bill are two delegates who also happen to be brothers: Dels. Carl “Robbie” Martin and Patrick Martin. West Virginia has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, with the highest rate of drug overdoses in the nation and the three lawmakers hope a border wall could help.
“Our constituents are crying out, saying that they need help with this drug problem,” Patrick Martin said. “West Virginians want this wall. I believe that they want border security.”
Although the Trump administration has routinely cited drug trafficking as a reason to build a wall, the Drug Enforcement Administration says most of the drugs flooding the U.S. from Mexico come in at established points of entry rather than open stretches on the U.S.-Mexico border.
West Virginia Democratic Party chairwoman Belinda Biafore called the proposal a “political stunt” and “sickening” because the money should be used for other pressing needs in the state.
U.S. News & World Report ranks West Virginia near the bottom in several state indicators, including health care, education and quality of life. It is last in infrastructure.
Contributing: The Associated Press