Tuesday 19 March 2019

Trump poised to demand billions more to build his notorious wall

President seeks $8.6bn in his 2020 budget plans to shore up his failed campaign promise on border

U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images
U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

Clark Mindock in New York

Donald Trump plans to ask Congress for $8.6bn (€7.6bn) to build a wall on the US southern border in 2020, a figure that far surpasses previous allocations for the project, according to reports.

The president's new demand is six times what was allocated earlier this year for the wall, and 6pc more than he has sought to reallocate with his emergency declaration.

It is unlikely to gain much traction with Democrats in control of the House of Representatives, however, who successfully thwarted his request for $5.6bn in border funding earlier this year.

But the proposal could potentially set the stage for the president's re-election bid, even after a damaging start to the year that saw few concessions on the issue and Mr Trump taking the blame for the longest government shutdown in American history.

"It gives the president the ability to say he has fulfilled his commitment to gain operational control of the southwest border," one administration official said.

Another official said: "We have provided the course of action, the strategy and the request to finish the job. It's a question of, 'will Congress allow us to finish the job?'"

The president's attempt to secure funding for the wall through an emergency declaration is being challenged in Congress and US courts.

A resolution terminating the declaration is also being considered in the Senate and appears to have enough support from Republicans to pass. This would force Mr Trump to sign the first veto of his presidency, which would not likely be overruled in Congress.

To balance the books, Mr Trump will propose slashing domestic and international programmes including foreign aid, environmental protection and transportation, according to various American news outlets.

Larry Kudlow, the president's top economic adviser, revealed yesterday that the US leader wanted to see a cut in all domestic spending by 5pc.

Asked whether another budget battle was on the horizon, he said: "I suppose there will be. [The] whole issue of the wall, of border security, is of paramount importance. We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case very effectively.

"It will be a tough budget... [Trump] is going to stay with his wall. He's going to stay with the border security theme. I think it's essential."

Mr Trump has made the wall a central promise of his presidency, having launched his 2016 election campaign with a promise to secure America's southern border.

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