The Trump administration that Congress appropriate $4.1 billion in federal spending to fund President Donald Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border over the next two years. The administration’s budget proposal calls for Congress to approve $1.5 billion for the project in the fiscal year of 2017, with an additional $2.6 billion in 2018.
On Mar. 16, the Trump administration released a 2018 budget proposal that called for $30 billion in supplemental defense spending in 2017, with $1.5 billion reserved to begin construction on the border wall. The administration has acknowledged that the wall will not be paid for by the Mexican government but by U.S. taxpayers.
White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director Mick Mulvaney told reporters that the requested funding for the border wall would put Trump’s campaign pledge into action.
“We wrote it using the president’s own words,” Mulvaney said, according to Politico. “We went through his speeches, we went through articles that have been written about his policies… and we turned those policies into numbers.”
Mulvaney added that the requested $1.5 billion for 2017 would be used by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to run tests of different variations of a wall along different sectors of the border.
“The next question is going to be, ‘How many miles of wall does that build, right?'” Mulvaney continued. “We don’t know the answer to that question because we haven’t settled on construction types, we haven’t settled on where we’re going to start.”
The OMB director disclosed that the wall will not be paid for by Mexico but that funding will come “out of the treasury.”
Congress has until Apr. 28 to approve of a federal funding bill or face a government shutdown. Democratic lawmakers have already signaled that they will not vote for the measure if it includes the $1.5 billion immediate funding for the border wall.
On Mar. 13, the Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, stated that inserting any appropriations for the border wall into the funding bill would be a “poison pill.”
“That will not stand,” Schumer said on the Senate floor, according to the Washington Examiner. “It would be inappropriate in our judgement to insist on the inclusions of such funding in a must-pass appropriations bill that is needed by the Republican majority to avoid a government shutdown.”
The Senate Minority Leader added “Don’t you think we should give time for Mexico to pay for the wall?”
While the GOP holds a majority in both chambers of Congress, they would require the support of eight Democrats to reach the 60 votes necessary to break any Senate filibuster of the budget bill. Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers have expressed concern over the proposal to fund the border wall using U.S. taxpayer dollars.
“I don’t care at all as long as Mexico’s paying for it — it’s neither here nor there for me,” Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona told The Washington Post. “But if we’re paying for it, it’s a significant concern.
The Trump administration has previously asserted that the border wall would cost $12 billion to complete. On Feb. 9, a report by the DHS estimated that the project’s construction would actually cost $21.6 billion and would take over three years to complete, according to Reuters.