President Donald Trump has asserted that his proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border would only cost more than $10 billion if it is built to the maximum specifications.
That figure is lower than the estimated costs of the project conducted by other groups, and arrives as Democratic and Republican lawmakers work to pass a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
The Trump administration has urged Congress to include initial funding for the border wall in the budget deal for fiscal year 2017. That spending package must be passed by April 28 or the federal government will go into a shutdown.
On April 24, Trump stated that he believed constructing the wall would cost taxpayers no more than $10 billion.
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"I think $10 billion or less," Trump told The Associated Press. "And if I do a super-duper, higher, better, better security, everything else, maybe it goes a little bit more."
The president added that he did not believe the border wall would exceed that figure, and blasted his critics for touting his estimates "to make it sound impalatable."
On Feb. 9, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security internally estimated the project would cost up to $21.6 billion to complete, Reuters reports.
On April 24, Trump took to social media to urge lawmakers to include funding for the border wall in the budget bill, The Hill reports.
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"The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)! If" the president tweeted. "....the wall is not built, which it will be, the drug situation will NEVER be fixed the way it should be!#BuildTheWall"
Trump added that he would eventually fulfill his campaign pledge to prompt the Mexican government to pay for the wall, but that taxpayers would need to foot the bill for now.
"Eventually but at a later date so we can get started early," Trump tweeted. "Mexico will be paying in some form, for the badly needed border wall."
Democratic lawmakers have asserted that they will not agree to a spending back that includes funding for the border wall.
On April 21, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the Trump administration has told Democrats that it is willing to fund $1 in subsidies for recipients of the Affordable Care Act for every $1 they provided for the wall, Politico reports.
The Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, blasted the suggestion and asserted that the Trump administration was attempting to hold healthcare hostage.
“The White House gambit to hold hostage health care for millions of Americans, in order to force American taxpayers to foot the bill for a wall that the president said would be paid for by Mexico is a complete nonstarter,” said Schumer spokesman Matt House in a statement.
The Trump administration has requested that $1.4 billion of the 2017 budget be allocated for beginning construction of the wall.