The mainstream media has been quick to paint President Donald Trump’s campaign promise of the U.S.-Mexico border wall as broken, but White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has come forward to reassert the Trump administration’s commitment to getting the job done.
“We are absolutely dead serious about the wall,” Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters at the White House press briefing. He noted that it was one of Trump’s “top three” budget priorities.
Mulvaney also poked holes in reports that the administration was buckling to pressure and reducing funding for the border wall by showing how Trump’s budget actually represents a marked increase in border security from the 2017 budget.
From the 2017 to the 2018 budget, funding for border security has risen from $1.5 billion to $2.6 billion, while funding for the Department of Homeland Security has increased from $3 billion to $4.5 billion. Those funds would largely be spent on matters related to the wall, including replacements of existing structures, associated roads and infrastructure, and land acquisition.
“Keep in mind, you can’t just… you don’t automatically magically build a wall in the middle of nowhere,” Mulvaney said.
The proposed $4.1 trillion budget released on Tuesday contains a line item for a “physical wall” on the southern border in addition to the $2.6 billion border security, but it is not clear where the money would come from considering that low-end projections place the cost of the wall at around $21.6 billion.
Mulvaney pushed back against criticism that Trump’s budget slashes welfare programs by noting that it simply slows the rate of their growth.
“We’re no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs,” he said, “but by the number of people we get off those programs.”