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By Thomas Phippen
President Donald Trump asked Congress for $999 million to start building the wall along the border with Mexico this year, and wants $2.6 billion for the project in next year’s budget.
The White House asked Congress to add nearly a billion dollars to the Customs and Border Protection’s 2017 budget for “planning, design, and construction of the first installment of the border wall,” according to a supplemental budget request released Thursday. The supplemental request also asks for $179 million for road improvements, gates and bridges along the border and $200 million to deploy border security technology.
Trump’s first budget outline for 2018, also posted on the White House’s website Thursday, asks for $2.6 billion for border security improvement, including construction of the wall.
Trump’s proposed budget, called “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” is a wish list for the president’s policy objectives. Congress has the final say over all discretionary budget amounts, and Democrats have already indicated they will oppose funding the border wall. (RELATED: Democrats Threaten Government Shutdown Over Border Wall)
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Customs and Border Protection, has already started planning for the wall construction. The department has asked potential vendors to start considering bidding on the project. More than 650 companies have indicated that they are interested in helping design or build the border wall.
Building the wall along some portion of the 2,000 mile border will cost far more than the $3.6 billion proposed for the next two years.
Trump has said the total cost could be around $12 billion, and House Speaker Paul Ryan floated the number $15 billion. A Department of Homeland Security report obtained by Reuters earlier this month put the cost at $21 billion for the entire project.
“The next question is going to be, ‘How many miles of wall does that build, right?’” Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters Wednesday evening. “We don’t know the answer to that question because we haven’t settled on construction types, we haven’t settled on where we’re going to start.”
Mulvaney said his team wrote the budget blueprint “using the president’s own words. We went through his speeches, we went through articles that have been written about his policies … and we turned those policies into numbers.”