Trump on border wall: Mexico will pay us back

Donald Trump tweets: Mexico will pay back cost of wall

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump on Friday tweeted that Mexico will reimburse American taxpayers for a new border wall and that U.S. money spent will be for the "sake of speed."

His tweet came as congressional Republicans and his top aides consider a plan to ask Congress to ensure money is available in U.S. coffers for the wall without passing any new legislation. Instead, they would rely on existing law that already authorizes fencing and other technology along the southern border.

The potential approach was disclosed Thursday by two congressional officials and a senior transition official with knowledge of the discussions; all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

Trump said in a tweet early Friday: "The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!" Mexico's president and other senior officials have repeatedly insisted that Mexico won't pay for a wall.

During his campaign, Trump repeatedly told voters if elected he would build a wall along the U.S. southern border and make Mexico pay for it.

But Trump never settled on a mechanism for how Mexico would pay. He floated various options, including compelling the country to cover the cost through higher visa and border crossing fees and threatening to target billions of dollars in remittances sent home by immigrants living in the U.S.

Trump transition spokesman Sean Spicer said putting U.S. money up-front "doesn't mean he's broken his promise." In an interview Friday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Spicer said: "I think he's going to continue to talk to them (the Mexican government) about that."

The approach could also stave off a legislative fight that Trump might lose if he tried to get Congress to pass a measure authorizing the kind of border wall he promised during the campaign.

It's not clear how much could be done along the 2,000-mile border without additional actions by Congress. Lawmakers passed the Secure Fence Act of 2006, but most of those 700 miles have already been built. Some areas are in much better shape than others, though, and long stretches are made up of fencing that stops vehicles but not pedestrians.

But whatever steps might be taken without Congress' approval would be likely to fall short of the extravagant new wall on the border that Trump repeatedly said Mexico would pay for during his campaign for the White House. And despite Congress' involvement in approving any spending, such an approach might also open Trump to charges of circumventing the House and the Senate to take unilateral actions, something he repeatedly criticized President Barack Obama for doing. A spending bill including money for border construction could also provoke a legislative showdown given potential opposition from Senate Democrats.

Still, several lawmakers and congressional officials said the administration could have significant flexibility in taking additional steps without Congress' approval.

"There's a lot of things that can be done within current law," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, though he emphasized that a lasting solution on immigration would take action by Congress. "You cannot minimize the potential impact of the administration doing what they can do under the law," he said.

However, some immigration hard-liners have already expressed the desire to see Congress take a vote, given how prominent the wall was during Trump's presidential campaign, and their desire to act on the issue.

Trump's vow to build an impenetrable, concrete wall along the southern border was his signature campaign proposal. "Build the wall!" supporters would chant at his rallies. "Who's going to pay for it?" Trump would ask them. "Mexico!" Trump often promised the wall would be built of hardened concrete, rebar and steel as tall as his venues' ceilings, and would feature a "big, beautiful door" to allow legal immigrants to enter.

Most experts viewed such promises as unrealistic and impractical, and Trump himself sometimes allowed that the wall would not need to span the entire length of the border, thanks to natural barriers like rivers. After winning the election, he said he'd be open to stretches of fencing.

© The Associated Press FILE - In this April 15, 2016, file photo, a Donald Trump supporter flexes his muscles with the words "Build The Wall" written on them as Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Congressional Republican

Trump Insists Mexico Will Pay for Wall After U.S. Begins the Work

WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald J. Trump said on Friday morning that financing a border wall with taxpayer money would allow the work to begin more quickly, but he insisted that Mexico would ultimately reimburse the United States for its construction.

“We’re going to get reimbursed,” Mr. Trump said during a brief telephone interview. “But I don’t want to wait that long. But you start, and then you get reimbursed.”

The president-elect made the comments after Republicans on Capitol Hill began discussing ways to include money for construction of the border wall in spending bills that need to be passed this spring. That caused some speculation that Mr. Trump was retreating on his oft-repeated campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall.

Mr. Trump insisted he is not, though even congressional Republicans — who have balked at increases in domestic spending during the Obama administration — could find it difficult to rally behind a proposal that could require billions of taxpayer dollars.

Building a wall to keep out unauthorized immigrants could also face intense opposition from a bipartisan coalition in Congress that argues that a vast barrier along the border would be ineffective in stopping people who are determined to enter the country illegally and would represent a symbolic affront to the idea that the United States is a welcoming country that embraces immigration.

In the interview, Mr. Trump vowed that Mexico would ultimately reimburse the United States. He said that payment would most likely emerge from his efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with the Mexican government.

“It’s going to be part of everything,” Mr. Trump said of the cost of building the wall. “We are going to be making a much better deal. It’s a deal that never should have been signed.”

But he said that the trade negotiations would take time, and that he supported the idea of using taxpayer money to begin construction of the border wall “in order to speed up the process.”

The full cost of a wall as described by Mr. Trump could be enormous. Attaching such a charged issue to annual, mandatory government funding measures could instigate a risky political fight. Those who want to block money for the wall by holding up the bills could find themselves accused of shutting down the government.

The Government Accountability Office has estimated it could cost $6.5 million per mile to build a single-layer fence, with an additional $4.2 million per mile for roads and more fencing, according to congressional officials. Those estimates do not include maintenance of the fence along the nearly 2,000-mile border with Mexico.

“The chairman and the committee have no interest in threatening a shutdown,” said Jennifer Hing, a spokeswoman for the House Appropriations Committee, referring to Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen, Republican of New Jersey and the committee’s new chairman.

If funding for the border wall is included in spending bills this spring, it would provide money to begin construction on a barrier that was authorized by legislation passed in 2006, but was never completed.

Ms. Hing said neither Mr. Trump’s transition team nor Republican leaders had asked for funding to build a wall on the Mexican border.

“If and when a proposal is received, we will take a careful look at it,” she said in an email on Friday.

At a rally in August in Phoenix, hours after meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, Mr. Trump vowed that America’s southern neighbor would bear the financial burden of securing the border.

“Mexico will pay for the wall, believe me — 100 percent — they don’t know it yet, but they will pay for the wall,” Mr. Trump said. “They’re great people, and great leaders, but they will pay for the wall.”

In a Twitter post on Friday, Mr. Trump mocked news reports about the possible taxpayer funding of the border barrier, suggesting that Mexico would be forced to reimburse the American government for any costs incurred in building the wall.

“The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!” he wrote early Friday.

Representative Chris Collins, Republican of New York and one of Mr. Trump’s liaisons on Capitol Hill, said on Friday morning that members of his party in Congress were eager to get moving on construction of a border wall, even if that meant using taxpayer money to finance it.

In an appearance on the CNN program “New Day,” Mr. Collins said it should come as no surprise to anyone that the United States government would have to pay for building the wall. “Of course, we have to pay the bills,” he said. “We’re building the wall.”

But he also expressed confidence that Mr. Trump would be able to negotiate reimbursement from the Mexican government over time.

Kellyanne Conway, who will serve as a counselor to Mr. Trump in the White House, said he would keep the promises he made on the campaign trail.

“The president-elect has said many times that he will build a wall and Mexico will pay for it,” she said.

As a candidate, Mr. Trump’s promise to build a wall to keep out immigrants from Mexico was one of his most powerful speaking points. He often used it at rallies to whip up his supporters and bolster his argument that illegal immigration was damaging the United States.

His repeated pledge to make Mexico pay was in part a way to rebut one of the central criticisms of a border wall — that its cost could run into the many billions of dollars.

Democrats slammed the reports that Mr. Trump would ask Congress to fund the project.

“If President Trump asks Congress to approve taxpayer dollars to build a wall, which he has always said would not be paid for by U.S. taxpayers, we will carefully review the request to determine if these taxpayer dollars would be better spent on building hospitals to care for our veterans, roads and bridges to help taxpayers get to work, and for N.I.H. to find cures for cancer,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, said in a statement.

Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, said she thought even Republicans might balk at spending what she said could be $14 billion on a wall.

“I think that’s a heavy sell,” she said. “I think that’s a tough sell for them.”


Trump knocks border wall reports, insists Mexico will pay – eventually

President-elect Donald Trump lashed out at the media Friday for reports suggesting he was going back on a campaign vow to make Mexico pay for a border wall with the U.S., insisting Mexico will reimburse American taxpayers for any money Washington spends up front.

Top aides reportedly are considering a plan to ask Congress to ensure money is available in U.S. coffers for the wall, while relying on existing law that already authorizes fencing and other technology along the southern border. The funding development was cast in some outlets as a reversal by Trump on his promise to stick Mexico with the bill.

In an early-morning Twitter response, Trump called the reports “dishonest” and suggested the U.S. would only be putting up money for the “sake of speed” -- and vowed Mexico would eventually pay it back. 

Senior adviser Kellyanne Conway confirmed on “Fox & Friends” that Trump wants Mexico to pay back any costs shouldered by the U.S. and said he’s not going back on his promise.

“He is going to build that wall, and Mexico is going to pay for it,” she said. “That has not changed.”

It remains unclear how the Trump administration would compel Mexico to pay, as America’s southern neighbor has shown no intention of doing so. In the near-term, the push to rely on existing law authorizing a border fence could stave off a legislative fight that Trump might lose if he tried to get Congress to pass a measure authorizing the kind of border wall he promised during the campaign.

But whatever steps might be taken without Congress' approval would be likely to fall short of the extravagant new wall on the border that Trump repeatedly said Mexico would pay for during his campaign.

Still, several lawmakers and congressional officials said the administration could have significant flexibility in taking additional steps without Congress' approval.

"There's a lot of things that can be done within current law," said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., a longtime proponent of comprehensive immigration reform, though he emphasized that a lasting solution on immigration would take action by Congress. "You cannot minimize the potential impact of the administration doing what they can do under the law," he said.

Trump's vow to build an impenetrable, concrete wall along the southern border was his signature campaign proposal. "Build the wall!" supporters would chant at his rallies. "Who's going to pay for it?" Trump would ask them. "Mexico!" Trump often promised the wall would be built of hardened concrete, rebar and steel as tall as his venues' ceilings, and would feature a "big, beautiful door" to allow legal immigrants to enter.

Most experts viewed such promises as unrealistic and impractical, and Trump himself sometimes allowed that the wall would not need to span the entire length of the border, thanks to natural barriers like rivers. After winning the election, he said he'd be open to stretches of fencing.

0 Response to "Trump on border wall: Mexico will pay us back"