GOP Leaders Expect to Appropriate $12B to $15B in Wall Funding

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By Jonathan Nicholson

Republican congressional leaders said they expect President Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico to cost from $12 billion to $15 billion and be funded as part of a supplemental appropriations bill.

“We anticipate a supplemental coming from the administration,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) at a televised Jan. 26 press conference with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) They were in Philadelphia for the annual gathering of House and Senate Republicans to discuss their policy agenda.

“First of all, we have to get the [Office of Management and Budget] director in place. And then we will anticipate a supplemental, like any administration when they come in to give a supplemental to Congress, and then we’ll process that supplemental before the end of the current fiscal year expires,” Ryan said.

Uncertainty on Offsets

McConnell said the wall proposal would cost in the range of $12 billion to $15 billion.

Ryan did not say whether Republicans intended to offset the potential costs of the wall with spending cuts or revenue increases elsewhere in the budget, but he said the idea was already authorized—though not funded—by prior legislation.

“As far as the offset, we’re going to wait and see from the administration what their supplemental looks like. I’m not going to get ahead of a policy and a bill that has not been written yet. But the point is we are going to finance the Secure Fence Act, which is the construction of the physical barrier on the border,” he said.

During the presidential campaign, Trump came under criticism for promoting construction of a wall to make illegal immigration more difficult and saying Mexico would be forced to pay for its construction cost. Since then, though, Trump and Republicans have said the wall will be built without any guarantee beforehand that Mexico will bear its cost.

‘Dollars on Fire.’

In an interview on MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren Jan. 25, Ryan said, “There are a lot of different ways of getting Mexico to contribute to doing this and there are different ways of defining how exactly they pay for it.”

Drew Hammill, spokesman for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), said Republicans were engaged in fiscal “brazen hypocrisy” on the issue.

“The same Republicans who howled ‘fiscal responsibility’ when it comes to investments to help working families are apparently willing to light billions of taxpayer dollars on fire and add to the federal deficit in order to build Trump’s useless border wall,” he said in a statement Jan. 26.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan Nicholson in Washington at jnicholson@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at pHendrie@bna.com

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