Senior Trump Administration officials are considering a plan to divert additional billions of dollars in military funds to pay for upcoming construction of the border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.
Trump made construction of a border wall a central campaign promise in 2016 and is continuing to emphasize the issue in rallies with supporters, which regularly feature chants of “Build the wall!”
The President wants 500 miles of barriers completed by the 2020 election. However, administration projections show that the construction would require $18.4 billion in funding, a far higher number than the administration has publicly disclosed.
The White House has already requested $5 billion from the budget for Homeland Security to cover some of the costs for next year. If those funds are not approved, the administration plans to repeat its actions from the current fiscal year and divert another $3.6 billion from the Pentagon.
House Democrats have vowed to oppose any funding for construction of a border wall, and refused to approve government funding in the 2019 budget. The Trump administration thus decided to circumvent Congress in its search for finances.
If the administration succeeds in even one of its funding requests, it will have diverted at least $7.2 billion without Congressional approval.
The Washington Post obtained documents indicating that the cost for building the barriers amounts to about $36 million per mile. 200 miles of proposed construction would occur in lands the government does not currently own, and would thus have to acquire through eminent-domain claims or purchases.
Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner headed a meeting on September 11 of this year in which ideas were discussed on how to reimburse the Pentagon to cover this year’s $3.6 billion in diverted funds.