White House officials guaranteed border wall funding will be a part of the president’s next budget proposal. The promise comes after the administration was unable to persuade Congress to include it in an emergency spending measure for the current fiscal year.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that when President Donald Trump makes his budget request in May for fiscal year 2018, he will ask lawmakers for money to begin wall construction.
“Make no mistake, the wall’s going to be built. The president has made it very clear,” Spicer said at his daily briefing on Monday, adding that wall funding will be a “major priority” for the administration going into 2018 budget talks.
During the early stages of negotiations over the stopgap spending measure, Trump suggested he would refuse to sign any bill that didn’t include funds for wall construction. The president had originally requested $1.4 billion for the project in fiscal year 2017.
As Democratic opposition hardened, the administration backed off its demands in order to avoid a government shutdown, which has become a divisive issue even among congressional Republicans. (RELATED: Texas Republicans Want To Put Brakes On Border Wall Construction)
Trump is expected to sign the emergency bill later this week.
Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney said Monday that Trump’s concession on wall funding doesn’t mean the administration isn’t serious about seeing the project through, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“A lot can happen in five months. Maybe we can prove to folks in both parties that we’re serious about this and that the border wall is not just some campaign concept,” Mulvaney said. “Maybe if we do a really good job deploying the technology … maybe it’ll help convince people that this is not just demagoguery. We are serious about securing the border.”
Trump reiterated his commitment to the wall during an address to the National Rifle Association in Atlanta Friday, reassuring a core constituency that he hasn’t flipped on his signature campaign promise.
“We’ll build the wall,” he said. “Don’t even think about it. That’s an easy one.”
Hoping to mollify immigration hard-liners disappointed about the lack of wall funding, administration officials pointed to the $1.5 billion of additional border security funds that were included in the final deal. That money will go toward border surveillance technology and immigration detention centers, Fox News reported.
Not all of Trump’s supporters were satisfied by the compromise. Bob Dane, executive director of Federation for American Immigration Reform, called the deal a “betrayal”, resulting from a lack of “forceful leadership from the president.”
“The art of this new budget deal is nothing to be happy about,” he said. “If the Trump administration expects to make good on its immigration promises, this current budget negotiation should be a reality check.”
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