According to sources, in a meeting with Republican Congressional leaders on Tuesday, President Trump threw out a new (well, sort of) idea for how to fund the border wall: cover it with solar panels.
Axios reports that three people "with direct knowledge of the meeting" said that Trump offered the idea of covering the wall with solar panels and using the electricity they generated to pay for some of the costs of the security fence:
Trump said his vision was a wall 40 feet to 50 feet high and covered with solar panels so they'd be "beautiful structures," the people said. The President said that most walls you hear about are 14 feet or 15 feet tall but this would be nothing like those walls. Trump told the lawmakers they could talk about the solar-paneled wall as long as they said it was his idea. One person cautioned that the President wasn't presenting the solar-paneled wall as the definite solution.
Axios goes on to summarize the rest of the meeting, which the sources said was largely focused on health care, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell saying the Senate would vote on their version of the repeal and replacement bill before July 4 and asking for yet another raising of the debt ceiling, which he said should happen before the August recess, while Trump insisted it should happen after.
As seemingly out-of-nowhere as the "solar paneled wall" idea seems, Trump is apparently drawing it from a group of recently submitted wall-funding proposals, a few of which AP highlighted in April, including the solar panel wall proposed by Gleason Partners LLC of Las Vegas.
"The panels would provide electricity for lighting, sensors and patrol stations along the wall," AP reported. "Sales of electricity to utilities could cover the cost of construction in 20 years or less, according to the company. Power could also be sold to Mexico."
A few other outside of the box ideas included making the wall a 56' x 22' "tourist attraction" with "plenty of room to allow tourists to enjoy desert views"; "storing nuclear waste along the wall in trenches that are at least 100 feet (30 meters) deep"; and making the wall "a piece of art" consisting of "polished concrete wall augmented with stones and artifacts specific to areas." One of the proposals, of course, was for "no wall":
Otra Nation, a group of U.S. and Mexican citizens, proposed the world’s first shared co-nation along the border “open to citizens of both countries and co-maintained by Mexico and the United States of America.”
It would also create “nodes of cultural production” such as libraries, museums, galleries and workshops between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico, and other spots with cities on both sides of the border.
It would prohibit oil drilling and mining and create a “hyperloop transportation system” for people and cargo.