A new report has revealed that US President Donald Trump is privately pushing the Pentagon to pay for the construction of his proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico.
The revelation was made in a report published by The Washington Post on Tuesday.
According to the report, Trump privately floated the idea of funding the construction of a southern border wall with Mexico through the US military budget in conversations with advisers last week, saying that the issue was related to a "national security risk.”
Citing three sources familiar with the conversations, the paper said Trump had told US House Speaker Paul Ryan in a meeting that the Defense Department should pay for the wall while Ryan had offered little reaction to the idea.
A senior US administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also confirmed that Trump had made the suggestion as an alternative way to pay for the US-Mexico border wall, saying, “There's a lot of different options we're trying to contemplate. Certainly that's one.”
At a daily press briefing on Tuesday, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders refused to weigh in when asked repeatedly about trying to get the Pentagon to fund the wall.
"I can't get into the specifics of that at this point, but I can tell you that the continuation of building the wall is ongoing, and we're going to continue moving forward in that process," Sanders said.
The report by The Washington Post also cleared up a cryptic tweet the US president had sent earlier this week that "building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!"
The advisers confirmed that the "M" was a reference to the military.
Congress would likely need to redirect money from the current Defense budget to the wall project, which is unlikely to happen, according to the Post report.
Trump signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that included a massive military funding increase last week, despite frustration with the amount of money it allocated to border security. The US president wanted as much as $25 billion for his wall project, but the bill authorized only $1.6 billion for fencing, surveillance technology and other measures.
During his campaign for presidency, Trump suggested that illegal Mexican immigrants in the US were “murderers” and “rapists.” He also promised to build a border wall and make Mexico pay for it. Mexican officials have adamantly rejected the payment for the proposed wall.
The total length of the border is 1,954 miles (3,145 km) and is one of the most frequently crossed borders in the world.