Vice President Mike Pence to inspect U.S.-Mexico border barrier

WASHINGTON — Vice President Mike Pence will visit the Calexico area Monday morning to inspect the construction of a barrier along the U.S.- Mexico border, the White House announced Sunday.

After receiving a briefing on the construction of the border wall from U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials, Pence is expected to speak to Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol employees at El Centro Station, 221 West Aten Road in Imperial.

Pence will make his way to San Diego from Los Angeles, where he arrived Saturday afternoon for two political fundraisers and a private tour of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.

Following the tour, Pence posted photos and comments about his visit to the laboratory.

“Inspiring visit to Jet Propulsion Laboratory! Thanks to the team at @NASAJPL for your leadership in unmanned space exploration since 1957! Under @POTUS Trump, America is leading in space again!”

The visit comes one week before the launch of NASA’s next mission to Mars, dubbed InSight, which is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Godesay and Heat Transport. The mission will be the first to peer deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet’s interior by measuring its heat output and listening for marsquakes, seismic events similar to earthquakes.

InSight will be the first planetary mission to take off from the West Coast, launching from Space Launch Complex-3 at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc.

Pence is the chairman of the National Space Council.

During the Council’s first meeting in 25 years in October, Pence said, “We won the race to the moon a half a century ago, and now we will win the 21st century in space. Under President Trump’s leadership and with the guidance of this National Space Council, the United States will usher in a new era of space leadership for our nation that will benefit every facet of our national life.”

Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield, will headline a fundraising brunch at noon Sunday at the Malibu home of lawyer and financier Marc Stern and his wife Eva, according to an invitation posted on the political news website Politico.

Tickets for the event start at $10,000 per couple, according to the invitation. Other ticket packages are available for $25,000, $50,000 and $100,000 per couple.

Some of those packages also include tickets to a roundtable discussion with Pence scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at an undisclosed location in Beverly Hills.

According to the invitation, the events will benefit “Protect the House,” a fundraising collaboration that includes Pence’s Leadership PAC and the National Republican Congressional Committee to benefit 20 Republican House members considered vulnerable in the November midterm elections.

McCarthy  is considered a strong contender to replace Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who is stepping down as Speaker of the House.