After campaigning on the promise to build a border wall and making the issue a cornerstone of his presidency, President Donald Trump has done what some of his supporters might find unthinkable.
The Trump administration announced it has canceled construction on a barrier along the border near Yuma, Arizona, due to higher-than-expected costs.
In a notice submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California this week, Brigadier General Glenn A. Goddard described the challenges that led to the cessation of construction.
“Contractor pricing … was higher than expected”
“Due to the difficult terrain at some of the approved projection locations, contractor pricing for certain projects and segments approved by the secretary of Defense on February 13, 2020, was higher than expected,” he wrote.
The section of border impacted by this decision was set to stretch along the Colorado River. Nearly $4 billion in federal funds are currently earmarked for the ongoing wall project, which represents money Trump reallocated from other Pentagon budgets.
Even with the reported financial issues necessitating this week’s announcement, the administration still expects to be able to complete 731 of the originally-planned 753 miles of border wall.
Trump has had to get creative to find ways to pay for his promised wall, including shifting money from other projects. Democrats have frequently criticized the effort with lawmakers in the party pushing back against requests for funding.
The president called for a discussion of the issue in January 2019, suggesting Democrats objected to his plan because he called it a wall.
“There’s a legitimate debate to be had”
“This is where I ask the Democrats to come back to Washington and to vote for money for the wall, the barrier, whatever you want to call it is OK with me,” Trump said. “They can name it whatever they [want]. Name it ‘Peaches.'”
Some moderate Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer of Washington, have agreed to fund border security projects, but generally have not supported a physical barrier along the length of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“I stick to the notion that the Homeland Security experts tell us that there are smarter investments to make,” Kilmer said. “Investments in technology, in sensor technology, drone technology — that can have far greater impact in terms of protecting national security. There’s a legitimate debate to be had on these homeland security issues.”
While it is important to remain fiscally responsible when attempting to fund such a massive project, many Trump supporters are sure to push for this section of the barrier to be revisited in the near future.