"Thirty-foot concrete wall, 30-foot steel spikes, that's not the smart way, and that's what all the experts on the border tell us," Merkley noted, cited by Politico.
The current shutdown of much of the US government continues to be the focus of a deep-seated battle between US President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats — as well as many Republicans — over the issue of funding the president's promised border wall with Mexico.
The Senate voted earlier 48-47 to proceed with a vote on a spending bill that includes an estimated $5.7 billion for border wall funding. Senate Democrats, however, have now said that they will not provide the 60 votes required to approve the bill in its current wording.
Trump said in a recent tweet that "there is nothing we can do" about the government shutdown, adding that Republicans needed the votes of Democrats to approve a government spending bill that includes money to construct a wall on the Mexican border.
Building a wall on the US-Mexico border was a key Trump promise throughout his presidential campaign. The president believes that the wall will stop all illegal migration, as well as end the trafficking of people and drugs.
On the ABC's ‘This Week,' Merkley said, "The American people want us to spend money in a smart way," adding that "$5 billion is a lot of money. That's 650,000 children attending Head Start. It's 2 million meals a day for a year — for a year for — for seniors."
"To spend it on a fourth-century strategy rather than on stuff that actually improves border security is something we're just not going to do," he stated, cited by ABC News.
"The president has a lot of money we gave him last year for border security and he's not using it," Merkley added.
Merkley also added that he supports a solution that involves fencing but not a wall.
"We have a plan, a bipartisan plan, that's on the table. We have the 2013 plan that passed by a supermajority in the Senate that would address the vast bulk of these issues. So, we're ready for a broader discussion. The president hasn't been there," he said.
"When you talk with the border guards they fill you in on what's really happening and say the president's vision and understanding of the law, he just doesn't get it," he noted.