President Trump is aiming to divert an additional $7.2 billion from the Pentagon to fund construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, over five times the amount allocated by Congress in the 2020 budget.
The Trump administration will move $3.5 billion from counter-narcotics programs and $3.7 billion from military construction funds toward the completion of a barrier, the Washington Post reported Monday. While the finished barrier was originally slated to stretch 509 miles, the additional funding will give the administration the ability to build 885 miles of barrier by spring 2022, should Trump win reelection.
The President has made construction of the wall a centerpiece of his agenda. The administration has completed 101 miles of new barrier despite Trump’s promise to build 450 miles of barrier by the end of 2020. With the added funds, the administration will have allocated $18.4 billion toward completion of the barrier.
The White House and Pentagon declined the Post‘s requests for comment.
Congress in December agreed to earmark $1.375 billion for border wall construction in the budget for 2020, while the Trump administration had originally sought $5 billion. In late 2018, House Democrats’ refusal to bow to Trump’s demand for additional wall funding, led to the longest government shutdown in U.S. history as lawmakers struggled to pass the federal budget.
The Trump administration’s attempt to construct the barrier have been met with numerous challenges in federal courts. In the most recent development, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to lift an injunction by a lower court staying construction of the wall.