In wall-funding ‘go-around,’ Trump could glom billions from disaster relief funds

January 14, 2019

President Donald Trump has been briefed on a plan that would use the Army Corps of Engineers and a huge chunk of change from the $13.9 billion of Army Corps budget to build 315 miles of barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to three U.S. officials with knowledge of the situation, NBC News reports.

The money had been set aside to fund disaster recovery nationwide—including providing government backing to rebuild infrastructure in storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico through fiscal year 2020.

However, those the checks have not been written yet and, under a national emergency declaration, the president could take the money from these high-priority civil works projects and use it to build the border wall, officials familiar with the briefing, as well as two congressional sources, told the network news outlet.

The plan could be implemented if Trump declares a national emergency in order to build the wall and would use more money and build more miles than the administration has requested from Congress. The president had requested $5.7 billion for a wall stretching 234 miles.

Under the proposal, the sources told NBC News, 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.J

Senior Defense Department officials discussed the proposal with Trump during his January 10 flight to the southern border, according to officials familiar with the briefing.

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.

A source on Capitol Hill told the network that, if the president moves to pull money from Corps of Engineers civil works projects, Democrats in Congress are likely to submit legislation to block the money from being reallocated.

Research contact: @ckubeNBC

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