The Slatest

Trump’s Latest Scheme: Get the Pentagon to Pay for His Wall

President Trump during an inspection of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018.
President Trump during an inspection of border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

President Trump appears to contemplating a new ploy to get his pet wall built—have the military pay for it. Since Trump is a walking, talking Ponzi scheme of a man, his willingness to fudge the numbers to get his way shortly after he signed a $1.3 trillion budget shouldn’t come as surprise. Trump’s frustration with the spending bill is that it basically stiffed him on the “big, beautiful wall” that he promised voters in 2016. The Republican-led Congress only doled out $1.6 billion for the wall. The Trump administration was asking for $25 billion.

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To make matters worse for the wall, most of that billion-plus is earmarked for fencing and levees, which is not exactly the red meat Trump delivered on the campaign trail. “Only $641 million is earmarked for new primary fencing in areas that currently have no barriers, and most of the money can be spent only on ‘operationally effective designs’ that were already deployed as of last May,” the Washington Post reports. “That means the prototype designs the Trump administration is exploring cannot be built, except along a stretch of the border near San Diego where a barrier is already in place.”

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Almost completely hamstrung on his most high-profile and divisive campaign promise, Trump has turned to the Pentagon to fill the gaps. The Post reports Trump has casually suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and House Speaker Paul Ryan that maybe, just maybe the military could build him a wall because not having one is a “national security” risk. “The Pentagon has plenty of money, but reprogramming it for a wall would require votes in Congress that the president does not seem to have,” the Post notes. “Taking money from the 2018 budget for the wall would require an act of Congress, a senior Pentagon official said. To find the money in the 2019 defense budget, Trump would have to submit a budget amendment that would require 60 votes in the Senate, the official said.”

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