Trump’s Border Wall Will Cost Billions More Than Projected
A new government report indicates that President Trump's border wall will cost billions more than initially projected. And Mexico still isn't going to pay for it.
The Government Accountability Office is reporting that President Trump’s border wall could end up costing billions of dollars more than currently projected:
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration could potentially waste billions of dollars on a border wall because it failed to fully account for factors like varying terrain and land ownership along the Southwest border, according to a new report.
The report, conducted by the Government Accountability Office, found that Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for construction of the wall, did not consider the cost of building along each segment of the border, which can vary depending on factors such as topography and land ownership.
The report also found that the agency selected locations for barriers without fully assessing where they were needed to prevent illegal border crossings.
“Without assessing costs, consistent with leading practices for capital decision making, C.B.P. does not have complete information for prioritizing locations to use its resources in the most cost-effective manner,” the report said.
It added that the Department of Homeland Security “faces an increased risk that the Border Wall System Program will cost more than projected, take longer than planned or not fully perform as expected.”
The report provided new ammunition for congressional opponents of the wall.
“This report exposes what we have suspected would happen for over a year,” said Representative Bennie Thompson, Democrat of Mississippi and the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee. “The Trump administration, fixated on campaign promises no matter the cost or consequences, is rushing the construction of the president’s completely unnecessary border wall.”
Mr. Thompson requested the report along with Representative Filemon Vela, a Texas Democrat.
“The report shows us what we already knew: The Trump administration put almost zero thought into the construction of this wall other than how it will play in the news cycle,” Mr. Vela said.
Katie Waldman, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, said the border wall was needed.
“Walls have proven to be extremely effective at deterring illegal entries and the smuggling of illicit drugs into the United States,” she said. “The initial prioritization for developing barriers in each location or segment was based on an operational assessment of priorities including current risks and threats, which was followed by a resource analysis that factored in cost.”
This report is, of course, just the latest complication that the President’s pet project, which has been a center point of his immigration policy from the day he launched his campaign, has faced since he became President. From the beginning, of course, the entire idea of a massively high wall stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico has never exactly seemed to be realistic. For one thing, the President’s biggest claim, that Mexico would somehow agree or be forced to pay for the wall was always a ridiculous idea that nobody outside of the White House and the President’s most gung-ho supporters took seriously. That point was made even more self-evident when the White House began to include at least initial funding for the project in its budget requests to Congress. With the exception of a small amount of money that was authorized to fund feasibility studies and other early work on the project, none of that funding has ever been approved by Congress. This has resulted in the President striking out at various times with threats to force a government shutdown if he didn’t receive the funding he was demanding, including one that was made just a few weeks ago notwithstanding the fact that members of Republican leadership in both the House and the Senate have made clear that they are not going to shut the government down on the eve of an election. At one point, Trump even suggested that he could redirect money allocated for the Defense Department to pay for the wall, although he has not taken that step as of yet. In any case, because of these disputes, the project is way behind schedule and at this point clearly unlikely to be completed by the end of the President’s first term assuming that it ever actually begins.
Even before this report, the prospects for Trump’s wall were not looking good at all. In addition to the fact that Congress was resisting funding the project, the American public was most certainly not behind the idea. In essentially every poll that has been taken on the subject since the start of the year — see here, here, and here just for a few examples — a majority of Americans oppose construction of the wall and do not favor the idea of either shutting down the government or redirecting funds from the Department of Defense or any other branch of government to pay for it. This latest report, which makes it clear that the idea that building the wall would be cheap and easy was a lie from the start, is only likely to increase that opposition. In the end, I suspect that Congress will toss some money Trump’s way, call it funding for “the wall” and let him pretend he won something when he actually didn’t.
Here’s the report: