Trump Wants Military to Pay for Border Wall

Fourteen months into his presidency, he has no idea how the federal budget works.

WaPo (“Trump privately presses for military to pay for border wall“):

President Trump, who repeatedly insisted during the 2016 campaign that Mexico would pay for a wall along the southern border, is privately pushing the U.S. military to fund construction of his signature project.

Trump has told advisers that he was spurned in a large spending bill last week when lawmakers appropriated only $1.6 billion for the border wall. He has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the Pentagon could fund the sprawling project, citing a “national security” risk.

After floating the notion to several advisers last week, Trump told House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) that the military should pay for the wall, according to three people familiar with the meeting last Wednesday in the White House residence. Ryan offered little ­reaction to the idea, these people said, but senior Capitol Hill officials later said it was an unlikely prospect.

The president’s pursuit of defense dollars to finance the U.S.-Mexico border wall underscores his determination to fulfill a campaign promise and build the barrier despite resistance in the Republican-led Congress. The administration’s last-minute negotiations with lawmakers to secure billions more for the wall failed, and Trump grudgingly signed the spending bill Friday after a short-lived veto threat.

 

Four days later, Trump continued to express regret over signing the $1.3 trillion package, which funded the government and averted a shutdown, saying it was a mistake and he should have followed his instincts.

In another interaction with senior aides last week, Trump noted that the Defense Department was getting so much ­money as part of the spending bill that the Pentagon could surely afford the border wall, two White House officials said. The Pentagon received about $700 billion in the spending package, which Trump repeatedly lauded as “historic.”

Meanwhile, the $1.6 billion in the bill for some fencing and levees on the border not only fell far short of the $25 billion that Trump was seeking, but it also came with tight restrictions on how the money could be spent.

The individuals and officials spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about private discussions.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders deflected a question Tuesday about money dedicated to the military being used to fund construction of the 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.

Earlier in the week, Trump tweeted this:

It’s truly mind-boggling that someone who reached the White House based partly on his reputation for business acumen has a six-year-old’s understanding of money.

Yes, $700+ billion dollars is a lot of money. No, our military isn’t “rich.” Because, well, it’s not a person. Unlike a rich person, the Defense Department has next to no discretion in how it spends its money.

Not only is every penny of that appropriation allocated into a specific budget category, but it all has to be spent this fiscal year. It can’t decide, say, not to build a Ford class carrier that Congress budgeted for it and instead buy a casino with gold-plated toilets and murals of Jim Mattis everywhere.

DoD can’t, for example, have sex with a porn star and then pay her off. When it contracts to buy, say, a building it actually has to pay the company that built it the entire amount specified in the contract. And, if one of its programs—say, operations in Afghanistan—isn’t working out as hoped, it can’t simply declare bankruptcy and pay pennies on the dollar.

Or, you know, a border wall to keep Mexicans out.

FILED UNDER: Borders and Immigration, Donald Trump, Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Trump 2016: We’re going to build the wall and Mexico is gonna pay for it!

    Trump 2017: We’re going to build the wall and the American taxpayer is gonna pay for it!

    Trump 2018: We’re going to build the wall and the U.S. military is going to pay for it!

    Trump 2020: What wall?




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  2. Mark Ivey says:

    Just get every army engineer unit out there on the border and they start errecting.

    Yeah, tweet that s**t…….. :))




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  3. becca says:

    Interesting interior decor.

    Turn of the century bordello (updated for the 1970’s) is just the height of elegance, no?




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  4. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The emperor has no clothes wall.




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  5. @becca:

    As this photo demonstrates, Donald Trump has long been the stereotype of how a poor person thinks a rich person lives their life.




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  6. KM says:

    Support the troops, y’all! Take their money to build Trump’s glorious Wall – it’s not like they need it or anything! “Rich” troops should be grateful to help out their country – not like they’re being shot at or forced on food stamps to feed their families or anything. Trust me – Trump know “rich”. I mean look at all that bling in the pictures; y’all will go blind without eclipse glasses ($100 a pair down in the lobby).

    #MAGA for me but not for thee, dear soldiers? Don’t worry – he’ll start a new war soon to give you something else to think about……




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  7. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    It’s truly mind-boggling that someone who reached the White House based partly on his reputation for business acumen has a six-year-old’s understanding of money.

    Well…in all fairness…he was elected by about 46% of the nations voters, all of whom apparently have a 4 year old’s understanding of just about everything.
    Funnier than all of the above…is that Dennison had a deal to get his wall $$$ in exchange for DACA…but the world’s greatest deal-maker got played by the Freedom Caucus.

    TrumpDennison noted that the Defense Department was getting so much ­money as part of the spending bill

    This is an ultimate Kinsey-Gaffe…so can we now finally admit that our Military is way over-funded, doesn’t need the money, and in fact could stand to lose $100B (~15%) in spending?




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  8. MarkedMan says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Trump 2020: What wall?

    Not quite:

    2020, with construction not yet started
    Trump 2020: We built the wall!




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  9. CSK says:

    @becca:

    Ive seen photos of the interior of chez Trump. In all those rooms, there’s not one single book or even magazine to be seen.




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  10. Kathy says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    As this photo demonstrates, Donald Trump has long been the stereotype of how a poor person thinks a rich person lives their life.

    In addition, he’s what a moron thinks a smart man is, and what a coward thinks a hero is.




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  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Trump 2016: We’re going to build the wall and Mexico is gonna pay for it!
    Trump 2017: We’re going to build the wall and the American taxpayer is gonna pay for it!
    Trump 2018: We’re going to build the wall and the U.S. military is going to pay for it!
    Trump 2020: What wall?

    And at every step, including the last, the Base will be saying Trump is protecting us from the immigrant hordes.




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  12. Facebones says:

    @Doug Mataconis: They were already walking the wall back during the campaign. Trump’s surrogates started suggesting that it would be a “virtual” wall, with lots of cameras and monitors and the like.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/08/29/could-donald-trumps-border-wall-really-just-be-a-virtual-wall-not-according-to-trump/?utm_term=.cfe16fbb7f9f




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  13. al-Ameda says:

    @CSK:

    Ive seen photos of the interior of chez Trump. In all those rooms, there’s not one single book or even magazine to be seen.

    Not even “Trump: The Art of The Deal”?
    or “Credit Repair Kit for Dummies”?
    or “Divorce for Dummies”?




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  14. Kylopod says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Trump 2016: We’re going to build the wall and Mexico is gonna pay for it!

    Trump 2017: We’re going to build the wall and the American taxpayer is gonna pay for it!

    Trump 2018: We’re going to build the wall and the U.S. military is going to pay for it!

    Notice there’s effectively no difference between those last two, as the military budget ultimately comes from the American taxpayer anyway. Now why do I have a sneaking suspicion he doesn’t know that?

    For a while it seemed like his plan was to destroy NAFTA and then claim whatever money was being used to fund the wall was in effect coming from Mexico. He never said anything about Mexico agreeing to pay for the wall. If he uses money that might otherwise go to Mexico, then doesn’t that mean Mexico has provided the funding, whether it wanted to or not? It’s like docking a child’s allowance to pay for the family car.

    If you think I’m remotely exaggerating Trump’s ignorance about budget matters, recall that this is the guy who thought the booming stock market was paying off the national debt.

    (Of course he’s become curiously silent about the stock market as of late, especially after it threw a fit over his tariffs.)




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  15. Timothy Watson says:

    It’s going to be fun watching the GOP congressmen try to satisfy Trump to avoid primary challengers while trying to not piss off the defense contractors who have already donated millions of dollars to them.




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  16. CSK says:

    @al-Ameda:

    No, but I’m sure autographed copies of The Art of the Deal are on sale for $100 each in the Trump Tower gift shop.




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  17. Kathy says:

    @Kylopod:

    Notice there’s effectively no difference between those last two, as the military budget ultimately comes from the American taxpayer anyway. Now why do I have a sneaking suspicion he doesn’t know that?

    You’d think he knows this, as he even bragged about increasing the military’s budget. But he may as well think the US military gets revenue from Iraq’s oil.




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  18. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @CSK:

    I’m sure autographed copies of The Art of the Deal are on sale

    You mean rubber stamped. No way he’s ever gonna work that hard.




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  19. CSK says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I should have written “autopenned.”




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  20. Sleeping Dog says:

    @becca:
    Bad taste is timeless.




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  21. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @Doug Mataconis: I do like the picture though. It has everything–Trump and his I-eat-kittens-for-breakfast smile, Melania striking her best “bad ass model” pose (did they use a strut in the arm of the dress? and if not, how many takes did it take to get the right flair on the pleated sleeve?), and Barron looking as if he’s thinking “when is this going to be over so I can get off this lion?” A new American Gothic… or something…




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  22. lounsbury says:

    @Doug Mataconis: He is the very picture of the Arriviste new money.




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