Economics

Controversial Border Wall Funding Included in 2020 Budget

On Friday, December 19, 2019, the Senate approved the 2020 budget just on time to avert the looming partial government shutdown and fund federal government activities. The new spending bills raised the government’s spending by almost $50 billion and added more than $500 billion to the deficit. The almost 1.4 trillion spending deal agreed upon by both the Senate and the House of Representatives is a pair of bills including one bill for the domestic program and the other bill for military spending.

The Defense Bill Allowed For Border Wall Funding

The defense bill was the cause of the delay in approving the spending budget by both Houses. The bill resulted in protracted negotiations that saw Democrats and Republicans clash from time to time. While Republicans defended their demand for additional Pentagon funding, Democrats demanded more funding for domestic agencies. In the end, the legislators set out $738 billion in defense funding.

The defense bill included several appropriations for Trump’s administration, including $1.375 billion for the construction of the border wall along the Mexico-US border. The allocation for the physical barrier in the 2020 fiscal year was the same as in 2019 fiscal but was $5 billion short of what President Trump had asked for. While the Senate agreed to the President’s request, the House did not include the funds for the barrier.

President Trump Is Free To Transfer Money From Military Budget To Fund The Wall

In the 2020 fiscal year, President Trump requested about $3.6 billion as a refund for the funds diverted from the military to pay for the construction of the barrier in 2019. The diversion of funds from the Pentagon to fund the wall was contested by the Democrats, with the majority wanting the president barred from doing so. However, the passing of the funding package allowed the president to transfer funds from the military budget to fund the border wall. Many Democratic legislators are unhappy with the wall funding provisions.

The Border Wall So Far

One of President Trump’s campaign pledges was to bar illegal immigrants from getting into the US by constructing a border wall between the US and Mexico. Former presidents Barack Obama and George W Bush invested a lot of money in securing the southern border with the hope of strengthening their case for the approval of comprehensive immigration reforms.

The southern border is approximately 2,000 miles, of which 700 miles is on land and the rest is Rio Grande River. When Trump got into the office, almost all the land border had fencing of some type including bollard fence, chain link, or vehicle fencing.

So far, very little progress has been made on the southern border with only 83 miles of the barrier having been constructed to replace the old fences. Over the last three years, Trump’s administration has found it difficult to convince Congress to appropriate the amounts the president requires for the wall. According to 2017 estimates, the wall could cost American taxpayers up to $22 billion. Congress is still not convinced that the new wall will deter illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.

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