President Trump's first major budget blueprint on Tuesday asks Congress to approve $1 billion less for the planned border wall in 2018 than was originally requested in March.
The 62-page blueprint from the White House says that the latest budget would invest $2.6 billion in border security, which would include funding "to plan, design and construct a physical wall along the southern border" though it didn't specify exactly how much.
As all federal departments and agencies do, the Department of Homeland Security released a corresponding budget document that asks Congress to approve nearly $1.6 billion, for fiscal 2018, which begins Oct. 1, for "32 miles of new border wall construction, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley and 14 miles of new border wall system that will replace existing secondary fence in the San Diego Sector…"
This request is $1 billion less than what the administration asked for in its "skinny budget" in March for the same time period. That initial proposal asked for $2.6 billion to fund the border wall in 2018.
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney assured reporters at a briefing on the new budget Tuesday that the administration is "absolutely dead serious about the wall." On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump repeatedly promised that he would make Mexico pay for it -- a claim that Mexico has consistently rejected.
When Congress recently passed a $1.1 trillion package to fund the government through the rest of the current fiscal year, Democrats opposed supporting any wall money and the White House eventually backed off of its demands for any wall funding for this year.
But the dynamics on Capitol Hill will likely be the same this fall when the administration is expected to again push lawmakers to approve the funding. Republicans need Democratic votes in the Senate in order to pass appropriations bills. Given this reality, Republican lawmakers aren't guaranteeing they'll approve federal funding for the wall, raising questions about whether it will ever materialize.
Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reportedly estimated that the border wall would cost $21.6 billion, nearly twice the amount of previous estimates. But Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill calculated it would be three times as high -- nearly $67 billion. Mr. Trump has repeatedly claimed that Mexico would finance the wall, a proposal its president has rejected.