On Monday, President Donald Trump’s proposed multi-trillion dollar budget includes billions more in federal spending for the construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. And while largely a political move, the proposal raises the question of what role border spending will play in the 2020 election campaign.
Nick Miroff is an immigration reporter for The Washington Post. While the budget proposal cuts the regular annual request of border wall funding to $2 billion from $5 billion, the administration also plans to spend an additional $7.2 billion from the defense budget.
“What we’re seeing is a switch from asking Congress to fund the wall to simply taking the money the way the administration prefers to do it,” Miroff says.
Absent from the debate, though, is how much it will cost to maintain the thousands of miles of proposed fencing, Miroff says.
“The reality is that U.S. taxpayers are likely to be on the hook for billions of dollars over time for maintenance costs on this thing,” he says. “The administration hasn’t said what it projects the cost liabilities are likely to be in the coming decades.”
Miroff says that unlike other federal infrastructure projects, the wall does not have bipartisan support. It’s unclear, he says, whether future administrations will continue to fund the costs of maintaining the wall over time.
“This is almost entirely funded by one party,” Miroff says.
Wall construction in Texas is moving slowly because most of the land on the border is privately owned. But Miroff says that farther west, where the federal government owns land, construction is proceeding quickly.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.