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Trump Shortchanged on Wall Money — Here’s How He Can Get More

Trump Shortchanged on Wall Money — Here’s How He Can Get More

With Donald Trump expected to grudgingly sign the reported agreement to avert another government shutdown, there are other ways the president can secure money to help complete his long-promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

“I want to thank all Republicans for the work you have done in dealing with the Radical Left on Border Security. Not an easy task, but the Wall is being built and will be a great achievement and contributor toward life and safety within our Country!” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.

The deal agreed upon so far secures $1.38 billion for 55 miles of physical barriers on the border, which is a far cry from the $5.7 billion previously demanded.

But in a pair of tweets on Tuesday, Trump said he will be getting “almost $23 BILLION for Border Security. Regardless of Wall money, it is being built as we speak!” in claiming the deal will be “hooked up with lots of money from other sources.”

So what exactly does he mean?

One theory Washington Post political reporter Robert Costa floated on Twitter Tuesday morning was via executive order.

“A White House official told The Post this morn that President Trump sees signing the border deal, if passed by Congress, as the way to avoid another shutdown. But, he would also likely pursue an executive order to reallocate federal funds to barrier projects, the official said,” Costa tweeted.

And there are other ways to secure the funding.

Also per The Washington Post:

The White House has been identifying various ways to patch together wall money through executive action, shifting around funding from existing programs and/or by declaring a national emergency. The latter choice is more of a political risk, but Republican lawmakers yesterday indicated support for finding the wall money in whatever way possible.

  • “He ought to feel free to use any tools he can legally use to enhance his efforts to secure the border,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, adding that Trump “got a pretty good deal here.”
  • ” I do think most Republicans believe he has authority and determination to get the money through other means. But prefer that it happens through Congress,” a senior GOP aide on the Hill told us.
  • “At this point it’s clear: POTUS should take executive action,”Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) tweeted.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says he thinks Trump will reprogram money and also declare a national emergency. “Absolutely,” Graham said when asked if he thinks Trump will declare a national emergency, “because he’s well short of what he needs,” ABC News’s Mary Bruce, Katherine Faulders, Mariam Khan and Trish Turner report.

Below are some of the options being floated — although it’s still unclear how they add up to the $23 billion figure Trump is now touting: 

  • “The emerging consensus among acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and top budget officials is to shift money from two Army Corps of Engineers’ flood control projects in Northern California, as well as from disaster relief funds intended for California and Puerto Rico,” Politico’s Nancy Cook and Eliana Johnson report. 
  • “The plan will also tap unspent Department of Defense funds for military construction, like family housing or infrastructure for military bases, according to three sources familiar with the negotiations,” Cook and Johnson add.
  • “Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and others pointed specifically to a military program providing for the construction of roads and fences to block drug smuggling, which Blunt said could offer $881 million for the president’s purposes,” The Post’s Erica Werner, Sean Sullivan, Damian Paletta, and John Wagner report.

There were various interpretations of the deal from the conservative media choir that my colleague Philip Bump referred to as a “modern-day presidential whip count.” Regardless, Trump seems to have found some political cover that he’s been looking for. 

  • Loss: “Trump talks a good game on the border wall but it’s increasingly clear he’s afraid to fight for it. Call this his ‘Yellow New Deal,'” Ann Coulter tweeted. 
  • Win: “He can portray it as a win because the Democrats were offering zip, zero, nada even though it’s less than what Trump said he wanted,” Rush Limbaugh said on his radio program. “Then the president can continue in his efforts.”
  • Something in between: “Trump is not only fighting Democrats, he’s also fighting the Republicans on immigration. This is a cram-though and pushed by mostly #NeverTrump crowd,” Laura Ingraham tweeted.