On Tuesday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney led off the press briefing by bashing Democrats for attempting to “spike the football” over the Republican budget cave. The Trump-approved budget completely funds Obamacare and Planned Parenthood and the Iran deal and the National Endowment for the Arts, but explicitly rules out additional funding for the Trump wall. Mulvaney, however, said that Trump would begin building a “replacement wall” that Democrats wouldn’t like, “but they’re going to need to deal with it.”
What is this “replacement wall”?
Mulvaney showed pictures of it, as seen above.
Those pictures look suspiciously like Reuters photos of a section of wall from January 2017:
So, is the Trump administration really doing anything here?
Nah. They’re talking about replacing certain fencing on the wall with more solid fencing on the wall, but this isn’t the famed Trump wall of which the president spoke. As Daniel Horowitz points out today at Conservative Review:
What the current proposal does is not only not fund a border wall, but it’s so specifically worded as to prohibit any of the currently allocated funds from going to construction on the project. The bill actually rescinds $21 million in unobligated funds for border fencing. This means that even previous resources cannot be used on new construction as well, thereby tying the administration’s hands and essentially weakening current law. Without this language, Trump could theoretically begin entering into contracts so that by the time the September funding bill is signed, he can hit the ground running with new funding (not that he will fight then, either). So, rather than take what money exists and use that to start negotiating contracts, run studies, and do whatever else is conceivable on physical border security between now and when Congress revisits this never-ending budget circus in September, nothing except for maintenance on the current, insufficient structure will be permitted.
So, we’re all supposed to get excited about maintenance using existing funding? That was the big promise? That big, beautiful wall is just going to be some upgrades on fencing that already exists and hasn’t been deemed insufficient? Just 700 miles of the US-Mexico border is protected by fencing. Trump’s promise wasn’t to make that fencing even more MAGATASTATIC. It was to build a physical barrier along the entirety of the border.
But since we’re moving goalposts now, this will certainly be seen as a big success. After all, success now just means stamping a big Trump “T” on already-existing legislation, projects, and agenda items, apparently.