The Slatest

There Have Been a Lot of Dumb Proposals For Funding Trump’s Border Wall

Trump gestures with both his hands out as he speaks during a cabinet meeting.
President Trump speaks during a cabinet meeting at the White House on Feb. 12, 2019.
Mandel Ngan/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted out his support for the idea that the money seized from Joaquín Guzmán, the drug kingpin known as El Chapo, should pay for the southern border wall.

The EL CHAPO Act, which was introduced in 2017 and which Cruz reintroduced in January, proposes the U.S. reserve assets seized from the prosecution of Guzmán and other “murderous drug lords” to offset the cost of building Trump’s border wall.

It’s an idea that almost certainly wouldn’t work. While U.S. prosecutors are seeking to seize billions of dollars of assets connected to Guzmán’s Sinaloa drug cartel, most of those assets likely belong to Mexico, as was pointed out in a recent Forbes article responding to Cruz’s introduction of the bill. And despite Trump’s many comments to the contrary, Mexico will not use that—or any—money to pay for the wall.

On Monday, CNN reported that Trump planned to sign Congress’ border security deal to avoid a second government shutdown. The deal, which negotiations reached late Monday, includes $1.375 billion for 55 miles of a border wall, less than half of what Trump initially asked for. Trump said on Tuesday that he was “not happy” with the tentative deal. But the White House has said it is still considering its options for funding the border wall, which could include declaring a national emergency, something that would likely lead to legal challenges.

The president’s supporters, perhaps seeing his struggles, have offered their own potential funding sources. Here’s a brief look at their entirely reasonable alternatives:

• In November, Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson drafted a bill called the “Buy a Brick, Build a Wall Act,” which, he said, would allow the government to raise money for a border wall by creating a cryptocurrency. Technically, it would allow the government to accept monetary gifts for the border wall, but those gifts could take the form of “sort of, like, crowdfunding site,” or even “blockchain, and you could have all coins,” he told NPR.

• In January, three West Virginia delegates proposed a bill to divert $10 million from the state’s $186 million budget surplus for wall funding. And around the same time, one Republican lawmaker in Montana proposed just giving $8 million—a tiny fraction of what the president said he needed—to help.

• Also in January, one Arizona lawmaker put forth a bill that would help pay for the border wall by taxing state citizens for watching porn. The bill, which First Amendment advocates have described as unconstitutional, would require residents over 18 to submit an official request and pay a $20 fee to the state government to be able to access to porn on their devices.

• In February, a Tennessee lawmaker introduced a bill that would add fees to money transfers from Tennessee to other countries (he emphasized payments to Mexico in a social media post, but not in the bill itself) to go toward a wall fund.

The president himself seems to have shifted his line from his oft-repeated campaign promises to “make Mexico pay for the wall” (a promise he still, somehow, is making!). As a candidate, Trump initially struggled to explain how he would get Mexico to do that. The ideas he has offered at various points include: increasing visa and border crossing fees; threats to block remittance payments to Mexico; tariffs; a solar paneled wall that would pay for itself; and money won from a renegotiated trade agreement. Many of these plans, if implemented, would have been challenged and likely defeated in court.

Congress has until Friday to get Trump to sign its border security deal. Assuming Trump ends up with less than half he wanted, and assuming he’ll be looking to supplement the Congressional funding with other sources, it’s possible we’ll still see more zany ideas from his acolytes across the country.