Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday that Congress will pay $12 billion to $15 billion for a border wall upfront, dodging questions about whether they will offset the cost with spending cuts.
The estimate comes one day after President Donald Trump signed an executive order calling for the construction of a wall along the approximately 2,000-mile border between the U.S. and Mexico. It remains unclear what the wall would actually look like, or if it would simply expand upon fencing that is already on the southwestern border.
“We intend to address the wall issue ourselves, and the president can deal with his relations with other countries,” McConnell told reporters at the GOP’s annual retreat.
Journalists asked the Republican leaders three times if Congress would offset the cost of the wall, but they would not provide a direct answer.
Once the White House sends over a supplemental ― a request for additional money to build the wall ― “[Congress] will process that supplemental before the end of the current fiscal year expires,” Ryan said, meaning Republicans plan to push it through by the end of September.
Despite his admission that Congress would foot the bill for the wall upfront, Ryan insisted that Republicans are still fiscal conservatives at their core and would “find the fiscal space” to pay for projects like the wall in their spring budget.