President Trump frequently said Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border as he sought the presidency in 2016. Now, he is privately pushing the U.S. military to fund construction of his signature project.
Trump, who told advisers he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers only appropriated $1.6 billion for the border wall, has begun suggesting the Pentagon could fund the sprawling construction, citing a “national security” risk.
After floating the notion to several advisers last week, he told Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., that the military should pay for the wall in a meeting last Wednesday in the White House residence, according to three people familiar with the meeting. Ryan offered little reaction to the notion, these people said, but senior Capitol Hill officials later said it was an unlikely prospect.
The individuals spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about private discussions.
In another such interaction with senior aides last week, Trump noted that the Department of Defense was getting so much money as part of the $1.3 trillion spending package that the Pentagon could surely afford the border wall, two White House officials said. The Pentagon received about $700 billion as part of the spending package, which Trump repeatedly lauded as “historic.”
Meanwhile, the bill not only included a relative pittance of $1.6 billion for some fencing and levees on the border, compared to the $25 billion Trump was seeking, but it included strict restrictions on how the money can be spent.
A White House spokesman declined to comment.
(c) 2018, The Washington Post · Josh Dawsey, Mike DeBonis