The government is presently shutdown as Democrats are refusing to budget sufficient money for the border wall. This despite having themselves voting for a wall/fencing in 2006.
President Donald Trump is holding strong and demanding they comply with money for the wall.
He’s talked about having the military build it if they don’t come across.
But he may have another option and may be able to build the wall on his own.
From USA Today:
A week ago, the White House put out a call to federal agencies to look for “pots of money” in their existing budgets that could be cobbled together to pay for border wall construction. Immediately, Sen. John Thune, the Republican whip in the upper chamber, shot down the idea of shifting funds from executive departments to the border, saying, “I’m not a big fan of moving money.” Like it or not, there are sources of revenue in the executive branch that the president has authority to use without congressional approval.
The Department of Agriculture has about $200 billion in outstanding loans for rural development projects such as community buildings, bridges, roads, fire stations, police stations, water projects and barriers such as fencing and walls. These federal loans to local communities have low default rates that are attractive to private-sector investors because they represent large, reliable cash flows — the kind of investments that big money funds desperately desire.
About $50-100 billion worth currently held by USDA are very marketable and attractive commercial paper investments. The rights to collect the remainder of the debt on these loans could be sold to private parties who would pay a premium for such a steady stream of cash payments. The sales would give a profit cushion to the government and alleviate taxpayers from any future risk of nonpayment while retaining certain borrower guarantees.
For example, Trump could authorize the sale of $10 billion of USDA rural water loans on the secondary market, which could bring in a lump sum payment of $12 billion or more. Revenue from these proceeds could be directed to build the border wall.
What else could he use?
Legal authority comes from many angles. Obama stimulus loans (approximately $2-$5 billion) could be separated out and used because they involved “no year” money, meaning the funds don’t expire if not spent in a certain time frame. The president could tap into USDA’s Community Facilities Programs money if recouped funds from the sale were used for new loans to cooperating communities on the border, such as in Texas.
Another option would be to utilize funds in the same way USDA undertakes in-kind swaps with private parties to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of commodities and services. This would entail swapping the proceeds of the commercial paper sales for the wall, with construction companies being the counterparties.
Now, of course, it would be simpler and cleaner to have the Democrats do their duty and approve the money outright. There already has been $1.6 billion previously allocated last year. And Trump should definitely press them now while he can to show how they refuse to protect the American people.
But they certainly are going to flip out and try to challenge any action if he tried to use money already allocated.
But their hands could be effectively tied if it’s been allocated to the executive branch and it fits within the allocation.
And obviously, Trump’s already considering the possibility if he’s asked people to search the department for what can be used.
People voted for a wall. Democrats promised it in 2006 and even before that, pledged security in a deal with President Reagan.