The administration of President Donald Trump is planning to move an additional $7.2 billion of Pentagon funding to build a border wall, according to several news reports.
The White House would shift money from two sources — $3.7 billion from one fund for military construction and $3.5 billion from another for counter-narcotic programs — into a pot to be used for border-wall construction, according to reports in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Washington Post on Tuesday, citing anonymous sources familiar with the plans.
According to The Washington Post, which said it had obtained the plans, "the funding would give the government enough money to complete about 885 miles of new fencing by spring 2022, far more than the 509 miles the administration has slated for the U.S. border with Mexico."
The administration had already diverted money from Pentagon funds for counter-drug efforts and military construction in 2019, but the 2020 figures are higher.
The move would bring the total amount of federal funds allocated to border fencing to $18.4 billion under Trump, The Washington Post noted, adding that "101 miles of new barriers had been constructed so far, according to the latest figures, far less than the 450 miles the president has promised to erect by the end of the year."
A spokesperson from the Pentagon told CNBC Tuesday that the Department of Defense "has no new announcements with regard to border wall construction."
Trump made building a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico a priority during his presidential campaign ahead of the 2016 election, accusing Mexico of "sending" criminals and rapists to the U.S. and saying that the country would pay for the wall.
It prompted a furious response from Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto who said there was "no scenario" in which his country would pay for a border wall. In 2017, he reiterated that sentiment, telling the nation in a televised address: "I've said time and again; Mexico won't pay for any wall."
In early 2019, Trump rowed back on campaign trail comments that Mexico would fund the wall, telling reporters that Mexico would not directly pay for the wall but claimed it would be paid for by revenue gained from the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), passed by the House in December and sent to the Senate, where it is expected to be approved later this month.
Read the full report on The Washington Post's website here.