President Donald Trump is reportedly inquiring with the Department of Defense about paying to begin construction of a wall along the southern border of the U.S. The President had initially requested $25 billion in border wall funding to be included in the massive spending bill that keeps the government funded for the remainder of the year. Only a fraction of his request was included in the final bill which he signed into law last week.
About $1.6 billion was included in the final version. Of that amount, $641 million has been allocated for fencing and other measures like levees, which are being called parts of a “border wall system.” An additional $1.3 billion is allocated for other border security technology but does not allocate funds for detention beds or more deportation agents, which was a high-priority for Democrats in their negotiations.
The Department of Defense has confirmed that the President has questioned Secretary of Defense James Mattis about using part of the Pentagon’s budget to pay for the wall. “What I can tell you is that the secretary has talked to the president about it,” chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana White said.
The Pentagon received $700 billion as part of the omnibus spending package, funding the nation’s military at historic levels. There is uncertainty however, as to whether the President can allocate a portion of that amount to an end Congress did not originally intend. There are strict limitations on transfers and reallocations of funds once they have been appropriated by Congress.
That has not stopping the President however from exploring that avenue of funding. “Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich. Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!” he wrote after the budget was signed.
Many conservatives were critical of the President over the spending bill, feeling Democrats got many of their priorities included while conservatives got few of theirs.
“This may be the worst bill I have seen in my time in Congress, the worst bill our leaders have ever allowed to come to the floor,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said. “The one thing we don’t fund is the one issue we all campaigned on, a border security wall, and that is not in the legislation.”
“We thought that perhaps [Trump] was not the world’s greatest negotiator but a negotiator, and we got nothing,” conservative commentator Ann Coulter said.
The President signed the bill after briefly threatening to veto it citing national security as the impetus but vowed never to sign a similar one again. “As a matter of National Security I’ve signed the Omnibus Spending Bill. I say to Congress: I will NEVER sign another bill like this again. To prevent this omnibus situation from ever happening again, I’m calling on Congress to give me a line-item veto for all govt spending bills!” he wrote on Twitter.
Coulter remained unconvinced by the security argument however, saying, “There is no more crucial attack on our national defense than the fact that we don’t have a wall.”