President Donald Trump talked with reporters about his administration’s effort to build the wall at the southern border on Sept. 4 and said he expects the wall to be completed at key places by the end of 2020.
Talking with reporters at the Oval Office, the president said his administration is currently building or replacing “very large sections of the wall” and it is happening “rapidly.” His comments came a day after the Department of Defense (DOD) said it was freeing up $3.6 billion in funds to build the wall that were previously budgeted for other projects.
“We’re building different sections simultaneously. And we think by the end of next year, which will be some time right after the election, actually—but we think we’re going to have close to 500 miles of the wall which will be complete,” said Trump.
The president said this 500 miles will take care of all the areas that his administration wanted to protect and it includes some “marginal areas.” The total length of the southern border with Mexico is over 1900 miles with various forms of barriers existing across 654 miles.
“We should have it almost complete, if not complete, by the end of next year. So we look forward to that,” he said.
Trump also said that a big factor that helped his administration to work on the wall is that they won “the big Supreme Court case.”
The Supreme Court ruled on July 26 that $2.5 billion in Department of Defense funding will go to building a portion of the wall along the southern border.
Trump praised the decision on Twitter, writing, “Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!”
Wow! Big VICTORY on the Wall. The United States Supreme Court overturns lower court injunction, allows Southern Border Wall to proceed. Big WIN for Border Security and the Rule of Law!
On Sept. 4, when asked if he consulted the congress for reprogramming $3.6 billion, Trump replied, “Yes, we have.”
The president said he didn’t speak with Congress directly and it was the Secretary of Defense who explained the matter to the representatives.
“He feels it’s a national security problem; I do, too. It is—when you have thousands of people trying to rush our country, I think that’s national security. When you have drugs pouring into our country, I view that as national security. And he had very good conversations with various members of Congress,” said Trump.
While the Trump administration has been under criticism for its reprogramming of funds from military projects, the DOD said in its briefing on Sept. 3 said that the identified projects “did not include family housing, barracks or dormitory projects; did not include projects that had already been awarded; and did not include projects that were expected to have fiscal year 2019 award dates.”
The DOD said sources of funding will come from deferred military construction projects outside the United States, totaling $1.8 billion, and from deferred military construction projects in the United States and its territories, which also totals $1.8 billion.
“These funds will be made available to the secretary of the Army only if and when it is needed for obligation. These projects are important. The intent is prioritizing funds in this manner, is to provide time to work with Congress to determine opportunities to restore funds, as well as work with our allies and partners on improving cost—cost burden-sharing for the overseas construction projects,” said the DOD.
Comptroller Elaine McCusker said some of these projects will be delayed but not canceled.
“The way we’re describing it is really deferred. If Congress were to backfill the projects, our request—and our request, none of the projects would be delayed, but we do realize this could cause some delay. They’re definitely not canceled,” said McCusker.