Pentagon: Trump and Mattis Had ‘Initial Conversation’ on Funding Border Wall

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as Jim Mattis, U.S. secretary of defense, right, listens during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, March 8, 2018. Trump opened the cabinet session promoting a very big meeting on steel and aluminum tariffs on Thursday afternoon. Photographer: …
Michael Reynolds/Pool via Bloomberg/Getty

President Donald Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis have discussed using military funds to pay for a border wall with Mexico, the Pentagon confirmed on Thursday.

“The secretary has talked to the president about it, but I don’t have any specifics with respect to any more details than they have spoken about it,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Dana White.

When pressed further, White said, “They have talked about a proposal, potentially. But remember, securing Americans and securing the nation is of paramount importance to the secretary. They have talked about it but I don’t have any more details with respect to any specifics.”

Trump on Sunday suggested in a tweet that the border wall could be paid for with military funds recently approved for 2018 and 2019.

“Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich,” Trump tweeted early Sunday. “Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!”

The president has taken heat from his supporters for only getting $1.6 billion for border security in the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill for 2018.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon received $700 billion for 2018 — the largest budget in the department’s history. Mattis said the money will go towards getting planes back in the air, ships back to sea, and new gear built.

The military has been struggling to rebuild its military after two decades of continuous war as well as drastic defense cuts imposed by the 2013 Budget Control Act, which slashed $500 billion in cuts over ten years from its budget on top of about $500 billion in cuts already planned.

“It’ll take years,” Mattis said.

White emphasized that there has only been an “initial conversation” on the border wall and called any further speculation on how it would impact the military “a bridge too far.”

“I think that’s a bridge too far because we don’t have those details, and again, it’s been an initial conversation,” she said.


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