The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona, March 29, 2013.
Samantha Sais/Reuters

Trump’s border-wall dream moves forward, but not with Mexican money

If you actually believed Donald Trump’s claims that Mexico would pay for his dream of a wall along the United States’ southern border, I have some very bad news for you. Politico reports:
The Trump administration proposes to kick-start construction of a border wall with $4.1 billion in spending through 2018, an official said Wednesday.

Mick Mulvaney, director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, said the president would request $1.5 billion in a supplemental spending bill and $2.6 billion in his fiscal year 2018 budget…. Despite Trump’s repeated campaign promises, the administration does not expect Mexico to pay for the wall. “It’s coming out of the treasury,” Mulvaney said.
Note, the reference to “the treasury” refers to money from U.S. taxpayers. In other words, Mexico isn’t writing a $4.1 billion check; in Trump’s vision, you are. (Asked last week whether Mexico would pay for Trump’s border wall, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Uh, no.”)

The president is nevertheless committed to the idea, telling a Tennessee audience last night that the proposed border wall is “way ahead of schedule” – which continues to be odd, since there is no actual schedule and the administration doesn’t yet have money to begin the project.

The key takeaway from all of this, however, is whether that money will ever be approved. If the White House is counting on Congress ponying up the cash, officials in the West Wing may be disappointed.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that congressional Republicans are “showing increasing reluctance” to spending the money.
Key GOP senators expressed concerns this week about who would foot the bill for the wall, with some bluntly voicing doubts that Mexico will cover it, as Trump has vowed. Even among those open to the idea of a wall, many spoke about it in less than enthusiastic tones.

“I don’t care at all as long as Mexico’s paying for it – it’s neither here nor there for me,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), whose state has a nearly 400-mile border with Mexico. “But if we’re paying for it, it’s a significant concern.”
This follows remarks from Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who told his constituents last week during a tele-town-hall meeting, “As far as the wall goes, I believe we have to have border security, but I do think billions of dollars on a wall is not the right way to proceed. I don’t support a tariff to pay for any kind of wall.”

What’s more, even if Trump could somehow twist enough arms to actually get the $4.1 billion – an unlikely scenario, to be sure – that would only cover about a fifth of the projected costs of the massive wall project.

For Americans who remain worried about Trump’s dream coming to fruition, I think you can start breathing a little easier.

Donald Trump and Mexico

Trump's border-wall dream moves forward, but not with Mexican money