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Trump floats idea of using military funds for US-Mexico border wall

President Donald Trump makes a statement after taking a tour of border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif., on March 13, 2018. (K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)
March 28, 2018

President Donald Trump may be researching alternative ways to pay for his promised U.S.-Mexico border wall, including reportedly suggesting that the military should front the bill.

The Washington Post on Tuesday detailed how Trump confided to his advisers that he regretted signing the omnibus spending bill last week, which allotted just $1.6 billion for the wall. In order to garner more of the necessary costs, the President has purportedly talked to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Congressional leaders about having the Pentagon fund the project, citing a “national security” risk.

The Washington Post reported that, according to three sources familiar with the matter, Trump mentioned the idea to several advisers last week, and the President ultimately talked to House Speaker Paul Ryan, as well.

The talks were a result of the $1.3 trillion spending package that the President begrudgingly signed last week that funded the government and averted a third government shutdown this year, but ultimately left Trump dissatisfied.

Trump initially threatened to veto the bill, posting a number of tweets citing the lack of funding for the wall and no mention of DACA recipients.

However, Trump ultimately signed the bill as a matter of national security, stating that he will “never” again sign a bill that was not only rushed, but likely not read by a majority of members of Congress.

The President is now tasked with the chore of finding other outlets to fund the wall and fulfill his campaign promise.

The Washington Post reported that, in an infraction with senior aides last week, Trump mentioned how the Defense Department was receiving such a large budget from the spending bill (about $700 billion) and that the Pentagon would be able to fund the project. Trump has sought $25 billion for the border wall.

The $1.6 billion Trump did receive will go toward fencing and levees on the border, but falls short of the sweeping upgrades and changes the administration has promised. Those funds are also subject to some restrictions.

During a White House press briefing on Tuesday, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders declined to comment about the money rumored to be coming from the military for the border wall.

“I can’t get into the specifics of that at this point, but I can tell you that the continuation of building the wall is ongoing, and we’re going to continue moving forward in that process,” Sanders told reporters.

While talks of alternative funding for the project seem to be picking up momentum, according to White House and Defense Department officials, the military is not likely going to fund the wall.

Re-allocating Pentagon funds requires votes in Congress, and taking money away from the 2018 budget for the wall would also require an act of Congress, according to a senior Pentagon official.