Written by Peter Baker and Jim Tankersley
President Donald Trump, undaunted by perhaps the most bruising legislative defeat of his tenure, plans to kick off a fresh effort Monday to pressure Congress to pay for a wall along the southwestern border, most likely setting up another showdown with Democrats who have vowed to block his signature project.
Trump, who failed to extract even a single extra dollar for his wall during a winter battle that shut down parts of the federal government for a record 35 days, will request $8.6 billion in the annual budget proposal, aides said. He will also ask Congress for another $3.6 billion to replenish military construction funds he has diverted to begin work on the wall by declaring a national emergency, for a total of $12.2 billion.
“I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is of paramount importance,” said Larry Kudlow, the president’s top economic adviser. “We have a crisis down there.” Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Kudlow acknowledged that “there will be” a fight over the issue in Congress.
That may be an understatement. Just as Trump has relentlessly made the wall his highest domestic priority as he gears up for a re-election bid next year, Democrats who took control in the House in January have made it a litmus test of their determination to stand up to his immigration policies.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic minority leader, did not even wait for the new wall request to reach Capitol Hill before declaring it dead on arrival Sunday.
The budget Trump will send Congress on Monday will serve more as a statement of values and a vehicle for political positioning than a plausible outline for how the government will actually raise and spend money in the 2020 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. Aside from the proposed wall funding, administration officials said, the president will call for a sizable increase in military spending and significant cuts in domestic programs, neither of which Democrats are likely to accept.