Trump Could Use Money Earmarked For Puerto Rico To Build The Wall: Reports
Shortly after President Trump finished a briefing with national security officials near the US-Mexico border in McAllen Texas, NBC News published what it purports to be details from an earlier briefing on Thursday with senior defense officials aboard Air Force One. Though the officials weren't named, NBC reported that they walked Trump through the details which included of a plan whereby the Army Corp of Engineers would use money earmarked for disaster-recovery projects - like aide to storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico - and instead use it to begin construction on the wall. The report suggests that a plan is being finalized and that the president might soon defy his critics and declare a national emergency to start construction on the wall - (a step that would go a long way toward ending the shutdown). In a report that's sure to incense Trump's political opponents - who have complained that the wall would ultimately be a waste of money that would be better spent on other infrastructure projects or, better yet, medicare for all - $13.9 billion of Army Corps funding would be used to build 315 miles of barrier along the US-Mexico border, far more than what would be accomplished by the $5.7 billion Trump is seeking from Congress (that money would only apply to a wall stretching for 234 miles). What's more, much of the money to finance the plan would be taken from projects earmarked for California, including flood prevention projects near the Yuba River Basin. Under the proposal, the officials said, Trump could dip into the $2.4 billion allocated to projects in California, including flood prevention and protection projects along the Yuba River Basin and the Folsom Dam, as well as the $2.5 billion set aside for reconstruction projects in Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria. Completing this segment of the border wall would take about 18 months, and cover an area from Texas to California. Trump was informed that the Army Corps could build 315 miles of border wall in about 18 months, according to officials familiar with the planning. The barrier would be a 30-foot bollard-style wall with a feature designed to prevent climbing, the officials said. The Corps would focus first on the heavily trafficked border areas along the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, in San Diego and El Centro in California, as well as Yuma, Arizona. Before departing for the border on Thursday, Trump said he would "probably" declare a national emergency over the border - but that he wasn't ready just yet.