Exclusive: in the budget, Trump asks Congress $ 8.6 billion for the construction of a border wall



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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will seek an additional $ 8.6 billion from the US Congress to pay for the wall he had promised to build on the southern border with Mexico to fight illegal immigration and drug traffic. demand told Reuters.

PHOTO FILE: President of the United States, Donald Trump, at a protest at the El Paso County Coliseum in El Paso, Texas, United States, February 11, 2019. REUTERS / Leah Millis / File Photo

Demand is more than six times higher than Congress has allocated to border projects in each of the past two years and 6% more than Trump has invoked with emergency powers this year.

Democrats, who oppose the wall as useless and immoral, control the US House of Representatives, making it unlikely that the Republican president will win the congressional vote. Republicans control the Senate.

This proposal follows a fierce battle between Congress and Congress over the financing of a wall, which resulted in a partial federal closure for five weeks, which ended in January, and could lead to an imminent follow-up on the eve of three worrisome budget deadlines this fall.

Regardless of whether Congress passes it or not, the budget request could help Trump formulate his argument on border security as the 2020 presidential race begins to take shape, with the president seeking re-election.

"Building the Wall" was one of his campaign promises during his first presidential race in 2016. "Finishing the Wall" is already part of his re-election campaign, a rallying cry stuck on streamers and placards at his gatherings.

"This gives the president the power to say that he has fulfilled his commitment to take operational control of the south-western border," said an administration official, who requested anonymity , about the budget request.

"We have provided the action plan, the strategy and the request to complete the work. It's a question of whether Congress will allow us to finish the job, "said a second administration official.

The funding law must be passed before October 1 – the start of the federal fiscal year 2020 – otherwise the government could close again. If Congress and the White House fail to agree to lift the mandatory spending limits set in a 2011 law, many programs would automatically be negated. At the same time, Trump and lawmakers must agree to lift the debt ceiling or risk a default. , which would have chaotic economic spinoffs.

722 MILES OF WALL

The request for the Trump Wall is based on a 2017 plan presented by Customs and Border Protection officials to construct or replace a 722-mile (1,162 km) barrier along the border, which would cost a total of about $ 18 billion.

So far, only 179 km have been built or are underway, officials said. During FY 2017, $ 341 million in funding was allocated for a 40-mile (64 km) wall. In 2018, an additional $ 1.375 billion was allocated to a 132 km (82 miles) wall.

For the 2019 fiscal year, Trump requested funds of $ 5.7 billion, but Congress has only allocated $ 1.375 billion to border fence projects.

After rejecting his request for funding for the wall, Trump said the border was a national emergency – an initiative opposed by Democrats and Republicans – and redirected $ 601 million in Treasury Department confiscation funds. , $ 2.5 billion in anti-drug funds at the Department of Defense and $ 3.6 billion in a fund. military construction budget, for a total expenditure of $ 8.1 billion for the wall.

The administration has not estimated how far the funds will go from 2019, but officials said the average costs were about $ 25 million per mile (1.6 km). ).

Trump's planned funding of $ 8.6 billion for FY 2020 would include $ 5 billion from the Department of Homeland Security budget and $ 3.6 billion from the Pentagon's military construction budget. The budget proposal will also include $ 3.6 million in additional funding for military construction to offset projects delayed by the wall, officials said.

The US Department of Homeland Security is one of the few areas of priority action to benefit from Trump's budget plan, which aims to significantly reduce funding for many non-defense programs.

Trump will propose an overall 5% increase in the Department of Homeland Security's budget over FY 2019 credits, including $ 3.3 billion, or 22% more for Customs and Border Protection , and $ 1.2 billion more for immigration and the application of customs rules, an increase of 16%. the officials said.

FILE PHOTO: The prototypes of the border wall of US President Donald Trump are visible behind the barrier between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico, January 7, 2019. REUTERS / Jorge Duenes / File Photo

The budget proposal includes a plan to hire more than 2,800 law enforcement and support staff for the agencies, as well as 100 teams of immigration judges, officials said.

Trump has to face political and judicial battles to release the money he wants for the current fiscal year. Many lawmakers have accused Trump of overstepping his constitutional powers by declaring an urgency to release funds. The House has already voted in favor of lifting the emergency and the Senate should do the same this week. Trump should veto the resolution.

A California-led coalition of state governments has filed a lawsuit against Trump to block the emergency movement, although legal experts have said prosecutions are taking a tough road.

Roberta Rampton's report; Edited by Will Dunham

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