Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis officially launched his 2024 presidential campaign, ramping up an existing feud with another contender for the Republican nomination — former President Donald Trump. 

In a new ad titled, “Obviously,” a pro-Trump political action committee, MAGA Inc., goes through a timeline from 2016 to 2018, comparing the actions of both candidates — Trump in the presidency, and DeSantis in Congress. 

“2018: Trump is building a wall, securing the border, fighting the invasion,” the narrator says. “While Ron DeSantis is voting against funding for Trump’s wall.”

On screen, the ad cites a March 22, 2018,  appropriations bill vote . When we reached out to MAGA Inc., it again pointed PolitiFact to that vote as evidence for its statement.

DeSantis did vote against that bill, but the ad paints a misleading picture about what that bill entailed and  about DeSantis’ stance on a border barrier. A year earlier, DeSantis had voted in favor of funding to build additional barriers along the southern border. 

DeSantis’ Congressional votes on border barrier funding

In 2017 and 2018, DeSantis voted in favor of building barriers along the border twice and co-sponsored a third bill to fund them. He voted once against a bill that included funding for the wall. 

In April 2017, DeSantis and 14 other congressional Republicans co-sponsored a bill that would have used the money drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman forfeited for border security measures. That included using funds to build barriers on the southern border. The bill did not go to the floor for a vote.

In July 2017, DeSantis voted in favor of the “Make America Secure Appropriations Act of 2018”. This bill provided nearly $1.6 billion in funding to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for construction and improvements of border barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The bill passed the House, 235-192, but did not make it to the Senate.

The vote MAGA Inc. cites is from the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018.” As part of a $1.3 trillion spending package, the bill also allocated nearly $1.6 billion for border barriers, including $38 million for barrier planning and design and $196 million for acquisition and deployment of border security technology. 

The bill passed 256-167. Trump said at the time that he had misgivings about it and considered a veto, but he eventually signed it into law in March 2018. He complained that the legislation did not include what he believed to be sufficient funding for the wall.

DeSantis and 89 other Republicans voted against this bill. 

At the time, DeSantis said he opposed the bill because “nobody had time to read it, much less understand it.” He did not say he opposed funding for the border wall. 

The Orlando Sentinel reported that DeSantis said the bill had been “drafted by a handful of members and staffers behind closed doors without the input of rank-and-file members,” and had been “publicly available for less than 17 hours.” 

“Stuffing more than $1.3 trillion in spending and a number of unrelated policy issues into a single, mammoth bill and ramming it through without any time for scrutiny shows that Congress has hit rock bottom,” DeSantis said. 

Trump echoed DeSantis’ sentiment at the time. 

In June 2018, a few months after the appropriations bill vote, DeSantis again voted in favor of a bill that directed the Department of Homeland Security secretary to deploy the necessary physical barriers and technology across the southern border to prevent people from illegally crossing the border. This so-called “Securing America’s Future Act of 2018” failed in a 193-231 vote.

Beyond DeSantis’ time in Congress, he has continued to support building barriers along the southern border. 

During his 2018 campaign for governor, DeSantis launched an ad in which he is seen teaching his daughter to “build the wall” as she stacked blocks. The ad also touted Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis for governor.

Most recently, while launching his 2024 presidential campaign, DeSantis reiterated his plans to build a wall. 

“We will construct the border wall,” he said during a May 24 Fox News interview. “I think it’s too big of a border to only rely on personnel. You need to have that physical wall.”

Our ruling

An ad from MAGA Inc. claimed DeSantis “voted against the wall.”

The ad cited DeSantis’ 2018 vote against an appropriations bill that included funding for fencing along the southern border. At the time, DeSantis complained the bill had been pushed through without enough time for review. He did not say his opposition had to do with funding related to border barriers. 

Less than a year before, DeSantis voted in favor of a bill that would provide the same amount of funding toward the construction of border barriers. He later voted in favor of a bill requiring the Department of Homeland Security to build barriers along the border, and he co-sponsored a bill to fund construction of the wall.

After his tenure in Congress, DeSantis continued to express support for building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The claim contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate it Mostly False.

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