WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump proposed to spend about $2 billion to build about 82 miles of additional wall along the southern border, the latest contribution to a 1,000-mile project approved during his first term in office, under the budget blueprint released Monday.
“Border security remains a top administration priority, and the budget continues to implement the president’s direction to secure the U.S. southwest border,” according to a budget statement.
But congressional Democrats criticized the spending priority, creating doubts about whether the funding would be approved as part of spending bills later this year.
“Instead of prioritizing policies to strengthen our national security and bolster American leadership and values, the president once again proposes wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on an unnecessary and divisive border wall,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairman Nita Lowey, D-N.Y.
Extending and enhancing the border wall has been one of Trump’s top priorities – and a leading bone of contention with Congress – since he took office. The $2 billion proposal is more than Congress agreed to provide this year, but less than the $5 billion for wall construction that Trump proposed last year.
The administration projected that about 400 miles of border wall will have been built by the end of 2020 and an additional 600 miles is projected with funding approved during the last three years. Those figures would represent significant increases in wall construction.
Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees wall construction, announced Jan. 10 the completion of 100 miles of border wall since Trump took office in January 2017.
“This is a milestone achievement for the president, the department and, more importantly, for our country,” Wolf said while touring part of the wall near Yuma, Ariz. “I can tell you right now that we remain confident that we are on track to 400, 450 miles that are either completed or under construction by the end of the year.”
Wolf’s announcement came a day after a federal appeals panel ruled in favor of the Trump administration’s shifting $3.6 billion from military projects to pay for 175 mils of border wall. The 2-1 ruling from a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned a lower-court injunction, noting that the Supreme Court had stayed a similar case in July.