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Trump’s Budget Asks For 7 Percent Of Estimated Border Wall Cost

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President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget request would only cover a small fraction of the cost of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to White House figures released Wednesday.

Trump is asking Congress for a $1.6 billion down payment on the wall, part of a $2.6 billion border security package that includes new infrastructure and immigration enforcement resources.

The president has previously claimed that completing an uninterrupted barrier along the 2,000 mile border would cost between $8 billion and $12 billion. An internal Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimate that Reuters obtained February put the price tag at $21.6 billion, far higher than both Trump’s estimate and other predictions from Republican lawmakers.

If the DHS figure is accurate, the White House’s request for FY18 would cover just 7 percent of the project’s total cost.

The modest request indicates that the Trump administration has determined that it’s unlikely to persuade reluctant Republicans, let alone Democratic opposition, to fully fund the border wall. Rep. Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, called the FY18 border security request a “pragmatic decision.”

“Asking for $12 billion in a budget for a border wall is not going to be met with great receptivity in the Senate,” Meadows told Bloomberg.

Administration officials insist that the border wall remains a priority for Trump, who made building a “big, beautiful” wall the centerpiece of his border security strategy during the presidential campaign. White House Budget director Mick Mulvaney says the administration will “press on” with its efforts to secure funding for the wall, as well as improved surveillance technology and additional Border Patrol agents.

“We are absolutely dead serious about the wall,” he told reporters Tuesday. “In fact, after taking care of national security and the vets, my guess is, it’s in the president’s top three.”

“We do think there’s a role for technology, a role for additional people, all of which we asked for in this 2018 budget request,” Mulvaney added.

Congressional Republicans remain uncertain partners in Trump’s effort to build the wall. Many leading GOP appropriators have balked at the project’s cost and said that the wall isn’t a practical solution to border security challenges. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, called the wall a “metaphor” rather than a realistic project.

“I have always thought the wall was a metaphor for securing the border, and I think it has just been incredibly important that this president, finally, we have an administration that has committed themselves to securing the border in whatever shape and form that takes,” Johnson said.

Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton echoed those comments Tuesday, alluding to Trump’s yet unfulfilled promised to make Mexico pay for the wall.

“I thought the Mexicans were going to fund it,” he said. “We need border security. I’m not sure we need to spend billions for a physical wall.”

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