President Trump said he will find a way to reduce the cost of the wall he wants to build along the southern border.
A report published Thursday quoting an internal study done by the Department of Homeland Security said the proposed wall would cost more than $21 billion and take 3-5 years to build. Trump and congressional Republicans said the wall could be built for $12-15 billion.
“I am reading that the great border WALL will cost more than the government originally thought, but I have not gotten involved in the … design or negotiations yet,” Trump tweeted from his Florida resort, where he is hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“When I do, just like with the F-35 FighterJet or the Air Force One Program, price will come WAY DOWN!”
Trump, who took office on Jan. 20, said in late January that his administration had been able to cut some $600 million from a deal to buy about 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters from Lockheed Martin. Defense analysts and sources downplayed news of those cuts, saying the discount hailed by Trump was in line with what had been flagged by Lockheed for months and would apply to other countries committed to the program.
A border wall to stem illegal immigration was one of Trump’s main campaign promises. He has vowed to make Mexico reimburse the United States for its cost but Mexico has repeatedly said it will not do so.
“Negotiations” with individual contractors who bid on a federal contract are governed by strict rules and a recognized process. Donald Trump will not be involved in “negotiations” of any kind when it comes to federal contracts while he is president.
As far as being in the loop on the design process, he may sign off on a final draft of the design, but I hardly think he would waste his valuable time getting into the nitty gritty of how the wall will be constructed. As with all of his building projects when he was a private businessman, Trump will have a team of experts working on the design to handle details he isn’t qualified to judge or knowledgeable about.
The DHS estimate could very well be influenced by politics as much as reality. But there is no doubt Congress is going to take a close look at the budget for this major construction project and make sure that costs don’t balloon out of control.