WASHINGTON — President Trump today said he’s “got a big decision to make” on his proposed border wall post-midterms after a spending bill he signed Friday punted what he vowed would be a red-line issue.
Without ceremony, Trump approved the government funding package that included a continuing resolution for homeland security that keeps the department at current budget levels.
House Republicans have been trying to pull money from other areas of the department, including the Coast Guard, to pay for a wall; Senate appropriators did not take the same route. Leaders wanted to deal with the impasse after midterms.
“We’re doing a lot of work, people don’t realize. I don’t really want to talk about it because I could build it quickly, at one time, which is what I want,” Trump told reporters in a Rose Garden press conference today.
Trump is working with $1.6 billion for physical border security this year, including improving outdated fencing in some areas, but he has sought $25 billion from Congress to build the concrete version he has envisioned. House appropriators allocated $5 billion in their funding proposal.
“And I’ve got a big decision to make after the election, as to whether or not we go forward. Because you know what? Border security to the people of our country, very important,” Trump said. “…I really think I have a very big decision to make sometime right after the election, very quickly, because you know what comes due after the election.”
“Do I want to do it before the election? Personally, yes. But I don’t want to do that for a different reason, because I have some very fine people that are running in close races, and it may affect them and it may not. It may be good for them. I happen to think it would be good for them.”
The president was asked if the wall, and campaign promise to get Mexico to pay for it, was a part of NAFTA talks that just wrapped up with Canada and Mexico.
“Yes, it was. Yes, we talked about it. With Mexico, we talked about it. It was a big part, and certain things and certain understandings are had,” Trump replied. “At the same time, we don’t want to mix it up too much. It’s a very big deal and a very good deal for everybody. But border security and security generally is a very big factor.”
“We also have drugs sometimes, and some people would say it’s a very similar thing. But we talked about drugs with Mexico,” he added. “That’s a very, very big factor. Very, very big. We have a lot of good understandings and we’ll be discussing that with them.”
Mexico has held fast to its insistence that the country will not pay for a wall. “President Trump: NO. Mexico will NEVER pay for a wall. Not now, not ever. Sincerely, Mexico (all of us),” President Enrique Peña Nieto tweeted in May.
While Trump has indicated he gets along well with incoming populist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the Mexican politician has vowed “we won’t allow his wall or mistreatment of our fellow migrants in the U.S.,” and said the wall “goes against humanity, it goes against intelligence and against history.”