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  • U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a rally at El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, U.S.

    U.S. President Donald Trump gestures during a rally at El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, U.S. | Photo: Reuters

Published 10 March 2019

Despite a five-week partial government shutdown, Trump is set on to deliver his U.S.-Mexico Border Wall.

Another budget fight approaches in the U.S. Congress Monday as President Donald Trump is set to ask for an additional US$8.6 billion to help pay for his proposed wall on the U.S-Mexico border, according to U.S. officials familiar with his proposal for the 2020 budget.

RELATED:
Trump Declares National Emergency to Fund His 'Racist' Wall

Despite a smaller request - US$5.7 billion - causing a five-week partial federal government shutdown that ended in January, Trump seems set on delivering one of his main campaign pledges. This might indicate a possible new standoff between the Democratic-run House of Representatives and the Republican Senate, as fiscal deadlines mount this October. 

The new figure is more than six times what Congress allocated for border protection in each of the past two fiscal years, and would include US$5 billion from the Department of Homeland Security budget and US$3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s military construction budget. It will also include another US$3.6 million in military construction funding to make up for any projects delayed by the wall, officials added.

“President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall,” Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement on Twitter Sunday, adding that an impasse that could result in a similar government shutdown “if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson.”

Following the rejection of his budget demand in 2019, the U.S. president opted to declare a national emergency on the south border, which gave him broad and special executive powers. At the moment, Trump has redirected US$601 million in Treasury Department forfeiture funds, US$2.5 billion in Defense Department drug interdiction funds and US$3.6 billion from a military construction budget, for total spending of US$8.1 billion for the wall.

However, Trump faces both political and court battles to free up the money. Especially, as the National Emergencies Act of 1976, also includes a mechanism for Congress to oppose such a declaration. The House of Representatives has already voted to revoke it, and the Senate is expected to do the same this week, but it is likely Trump will veto the resolution.

This new proposed budget comes as the 2020 presidential race begins to take shape, with Trump seeking re-election. As his “Build the wall” promise has morphed into the rallying campaign cry “Finish the wall”.

The wall funding request is based off a 2017 plan presented by Customs and Border Protection officials to build or replace 1,162 km (722 miles) of fence along the Mexican border, with a total estimated cost of about US$18 billion. At the moment only 179 km (111 miles) have been built or are underway.

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