Despite receiving only a small fraction of the $25 billion he wanted for construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, President Donald Trump recently announced the project will begin within days.
During a hastily coordinated news conference Friday, he confirmed his intention to support a $1.3 trillion omnibus bill funding the nation’s government until September — despite the fact that it included just $1.6 billion for border fencing and repair.
As the Washington Examiner reported, Trump said work on the wall would begin “literally on Monday,” adding that there will be “a lot of money coming to the border.”
The decision to support the spending legislation followed a period of vacillation on the issue. After the White House expressed Trump’s intention to sign the bill earlier in the week, he tweeted Friday morning — just hours before a federal government shutdown was set to go into effect — that he was considering a presidential veto.
I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 23, 2018
“I am considering a VETO of the Omnibus Spending Bill based on the fact that the 800,000 plus DACA recipients have been totally abandoned by the Democrats (not even mentioned in Bill) and the BORDER WALL, which is desperately needed for our National Defense, is not fully funded,” he wrote.
Days earlier, he tweeted a more supportive take on the funding, citing “$1.6 Billion to start Wall on Southern Border” and indicating that the “rest will be forthcoming.”
Trump heralded increased military spending in the bill as the main reason to support the measure.
In his comments Friday, however, he made it clear he was “not happy with the $1.6 billion for the wall.”
Trump went on to suggest that the earmarked spending will be used for construction of “some new wall” in addition to “fixing existing walls and existing fences,” though the bill he signed into law reportedly precludes such construction.
According to NBC News, wall construction received no funding in the omnibus bill.
As written, the money can be used to build and repair fencing that has already been approved and $38 million is set aside for preliminary work including wall design.
Trump called the funding an “initial down payment” on his campaign promise of building a wall along America’s southern border. During the 2016 presidential campaign, he frequently assured supporters that Mexico would foot the bill for its construction.
Earlier this year, he indicated that he still believes Mexico will “indirectly” pay for the wall through renegotiated trade agreements, as reported by CNBC.
“We make a good deal on NAFTA, and, say, I’m going to take a small percentage of that money and it’s going toward the wall,” he said. “Guess what? Mexico’s paying.”
Trump toured an area near the border in California this month where several border-wall prototypes are on display.
At that time, he declared installing such security measures would effectively eradicate illegal immigration into the U.S.
“We have a lousy wall over here now but at least it stops 90, 95 percent,” he said. “When we put up the real wall we’re going to stop 99 percent, maybe more than that.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.