President Donald Trump signaled disappointment that the 2,232-page omnibus spending bill only provided $1.6 billion for border fencing, but said that it helped “start” the wall.
“Not happy with 1.6 billion, but it does start the wall and we’ll make that $1.6 billion go very far,” Trump said.
But the Omnibus bill only provides narrow funding for border fencing on specific parts of the border.
From the text of the bill:
$1,571,000,000 shall be available only as follows:
(1) $251,000,000 for approximately 14 miles of secondary fencing, all of which provides for cross- barrier visual situational awareness, along the south-west border in the San Diego Sector;(2) $445,000,000 for 25 miles of primary pedestrian levee fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;
(3) $196,000,000 for primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border in the Rio Grande Valley Sector;
(4) $445,000,000 for replacement of existing primary pedestrian fencing along the southwest border
The spending bill includes a special clause ordering that the funds be used to underwrite “currently deployed steel bollard designs” on the border, not replicas of the new wall prototypes constructed in San Diego. The word “wall” does not appear anywhere in the bill to describe border security.
Trump said that “a strong border system, including a wall,” would help defend the country’s borders.
“We’re going to be starting work literally on Monday on not only some new wall — not enough, but we’re working on that very quickly — but also fixing existing walls and existing acceptable fences,” he said. “There are some areas that you have to see through, you have to be able to see through the other side in order to see what’s coming.”
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen also praised the new funding, calling it a “downpayment on the border wall system.”
She added, however, that it was “unfortunate” that Congress restricted DHS officials in the legislation on border security.
“They’ve told us how to build the wall, where to build the wall,” Nielsen said. “And we will continue to work with them to make sure that the wall is where we need it, how we need it as the president described, and to make sure that it serves the American people and the security of this nation.”