The Trump administration is chugging along with its plans to build a border wall, but its most recent budget wishlist includes funding for it that's smaller than previous targets.
Back in March, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the administration would push for $4.1 billion to spend on the border wall through 2018.
But a breakdown of the latest budget proposal given to reporters Monday shows that the White House is now asking for $1.6 billion for “new and replacement border wall in locations identified by the Border Patrol as operational priorities to impede the flow of illegal crossings” and an additional billion for border surveillance, road building, and equipment.
This is on top of the $341 million in stopgap budget funding to upgrade existing border fencing, which was far short of the $1.5 billion the administration requested and was denied in the last deal with Congress.
Following the latest proposal release, Mulvaney tried to clarify how the funding fits into the Trump administration's grand plan, saying in the White House briefing room Tuesday:
“The 2017 request was $1.5 billion for border security and $3 billion in additional DHS funding. The proposal in 2018 is $2.6 [billion] for border security —- almost twice as much — and $4.5 [billion] for total DHS.”
But as the Dallas Morning News noted, Mulvaney “glossed over the fact that $1 billion of the $2.6 billion request isn't only for the wall.”
According to the White House, the new budget pitch includes:
- $1.6 billion for new and replacement border wall in locations identified by the Border Patrol as operational priorities to impede the flow of illegal crossings
- $239 million for aircraft and other aviation assets to help identify and track border crossings and support enforcement actions on the ground
- $202 million for critical equipment and facility needs, such as vehicles, radios, weapons, and computers
- $197 million for surveillance technology, such as towers, radars, cameras, and sensors, to give the Border Patrol situational awareness in high-risk areas
- $111 million for road construction and maintenance to give Border Patrol access to difficult to reach locations
- $109 million to recapitalize non-intrusive inspection equipment at ports of entry, anticipating that stronger enforcement between the ports may lead to increased contraband flowing through official border crossings
The White House did not respond to Independent Journal Review's request for more details on where the proposed wall funding would be deployed along the U.S.-Mexico border.
As is the case for most budget proposals by the executive branch, lawmakers on Capitol Hill were quick to call this one a nothing burger. Senator John Cornyn called it “dead on arrival,” while fellow Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida said:
“I don't pay very much attention to presidential budgets, no matter what party the president is from."
It was a bipartisan sentiment, with Democrats tossing their copies in the recycling bin:
The White House's proposed border wall funding is still a long ways away from the estimated $12-38 billion it will take to build out what the president has promised. And so far, there aren't any clear plans as to how Mexico will fund its construction.