Mick Mulvaney, the president’s budget director, said on Tuesday that the administration will replace segments of chain-link fencing with a 20-foot-tall steel fence along the southern border, despite Congress refusal to fund the president’s border wall in its spending bill.
Trump, for his part, has claimed that the administration is “beginning to build the wall,” which was a central plank of his presidential campaign, saying that “we're putting up a lot of new wall in certain areas.” Mulvaney elaborated Tuesday that there is funding to “replace cyclone fencing with 20-foot high steel wall.” He declined repeated questions from White House reporters about where along the border the fencing would go, or how many miles it would cover.
He was apparently referring to a provision in the spending bill unveiled by Congress earlier this week, which falls well short of the president’s repeated pledges. The bill allocates a little more than $341 million “to replace approximately 40 miles of existing primary pedestrian and vehicle border fencing along the southwest border using previously deployed and operationally effective designs, such as currently deployed steel bollard designs, that prioritize agent safety; and to add gates to existing barriers.” According to a 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office, existing vehicle and pedestrian fencing along the border averaged somewhere between $1 and $3.9 million to erect. The budget allocation implies that replacing that fencing with a steel-bollard design would cost $8.5 million per mile.