White House cites "options" for funding U.S. border wall

By Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Tuesday it has found a way to build President Donald Trump's promised border wall without new funding from Congress, stepping away from the president's threat to shut down the U.S. government over border security disputes. 'We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion,' White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Fox News

Reuters December 19, 2018 01:06:38 IST
White House cites "options" for funding U.S. border wall

White House cites quotoptionsquot for funding US border wall

By Richard Cowan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Tuesday it has found a way to build President Donald Trump's promised border wall without new funding from Congress, stepping away from the president's threat to shut down the U.S. government over border security disputes.

"We have other ways that we can get to that $5 billion," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Fox News. "At the end of the day, we don’t want to shut down the government, we want to shut down the border."

Trump and Congress, embroiled in a feud over his proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall, have four days to reach a deal before a partial government shutdown could leave about a quarter of the federal workforce without paychecks.

Last week, in a heated exchange at the White House with Democratic leaders in Congress, Trump declared he would be "proud to shut down the government" if he did not get his demand for $5 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Since then, after days with no apparent progress, the senior Republican and Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee huddled with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell just steps from the Senate chamber.

Following that meeting, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby told reporters, "We're talking seriously about how to reach our goal" of keeping the government funded beyond Friday. He said they were "working with the president, working with the Democrats. There are a lot of variables here."

A senior Democratic aide, who asked not to be identified, said Trump and Republicans in Congress have floated the idea of lawmakers providing the president $1 billion in new funds to be used for any of his immigration priorities - an idea that Democrats will not accept.

Trump has demanded $5 billion as a down payment on construction of a wall that he argues is needed to keep illegal immigrants and drugs from entering the United States. Building the wall was a key pledge of his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump had originally said Mexico would pay for the wall, but leaders of the United States' southern neighbor have repeatedly said it would not.

Democrats and some Republicans argue there are less costly, more effective border controls than a wall.

Sanders indicated the White House was backing down from Trump's threat to shut down the federal government if Congress refused to provide money for his wall.

"There's certainly a number of different funding sources that we've identified that we can use, that we can couple with the money that would be given through congressional appropriations, that would help us get to that $5 billion that the president needs in order to protect our borders," Sanders said on Fox.

Asked whether the White House was exploring the use of funds, including from the Defense Department, for building the wall and whether that would be legal, Sanders said, "Absolutely."

But Shelby was less certain.

In response to a reporter's question on whether Trump could order the Pentagon to shift some of its funds to wall construction, Shelby said: "I don't know about that." He added, however, that Trump "does have the power to defend the country" and "the power to protect the border."

The money Trump wants is a fraction of the roughly $450 billion Congress was poised to approve - before the latest battle over the proposed wall - to fund several agencies which will otherwise run out of money at midnight on Friday.

(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Richard Cowan; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.