Congressional Democrats refused President Donald Trump's newest request for border wall funding even before the White House officially made it.
In response to media reports Sunday that the president plans to ask Congress for an additional $8.6 billion in funding for construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. – who recently refused to approve $5.7 billion in border wall funding despite a record 35-day government shutdown – made it clear that they would not approve the money.
"President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government," Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement on Sunday in response to the story first reported by Reuters.
"The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again. We hope he learned his lesson," they said, arguing the "money would better be spent" on other issues such as education.
"Let’s get this straight: billions of dollars for a border wall is a waste of money," tweeted Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who is hoping to unseat Trump in 2020. "American taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for the President’s vanity project. We simply don’t need it."
Let’s get this straight: billions of dollars for a border wall is a waste of money. American taxpayers shouldn’t foot the bill for the President’s vanity project. We simply don’t need it. https://t.co/u6dHy5FrbB— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) March 10, 2019
The request will be included in the president's 2020 budget proposal, which he is expected to submit on Monday, Reuters reported.
White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow did not dispute the report during an interview on "Fox News Sunday."
When asked whether he thought there would be another partisan fight over the $8.6 billion, Kudlow said, "I suppose there will be."
"I would just say that the whole issue of the wall and border security is of paramount importance," Kudlow said. "We have a crisis down there. I think the president has made that case very effectively."
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The border wall and immigration issues have been at the heart of Trump's political identity since he launched his campaign in 2015. And Kudlow said the president is "going to stay with border security" moving forward.
After agreeing to reopen the government as part of a deal that only included $1.375 billion for border barrier construction, some immigration opponents accused Trump of "caving" to Democrats. Conservative author Ann Coulter issued some of the sharpest criticism, calling Trump a "wimp." She even derided his declaration of a national emergency to obtain the funds for a wall as a "scam."
Trump has pushed back against such criticisms. There is little chance Democrats will approve the $8.6 billion, but the request signals to Trump's base, and critics like Coulter, that he intends to keep fighting for the promised wall.
"Wacky Nut Job @AnnCoulter, who still hasn’t figured out that, despite all odds and an entire Democrat Party of Far Left Radicals against me (not to mention certain Republicans who are sadly unwilling to fight), I am winning on the Border," Trump tweeted on Saturday.
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Wacky Nut Job @AnnCoulter, who still hasn’t figured out that, despite all odds and an entire Democrat Party of Far Left Radicals against me (not to mention certain Republicans who are sadly unwilling to fight), I am winning on the Border. Major sections of Wall are being built...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2019
....and renovated, with MUCH MORE to follow shortly. Tens of thousands of illegals are being apprehended (captured) at the Border and NOT allowed into our Country. With another President, millions would be pouring in. I am stopping an invasion as the Wall gets built. #MAGA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 9, 2019
"Major sections of Wall are being built ... and renovated," he added. "Tens of thousands of illegals are being apprehended (captured) at the Border and NOT allowed into our Country. With another President, millions would be pouring in. I am stopping an invasion as the Wall gets built."
Customs and Border Protection has replaced several dozens of miles of existing border barrier since Trump took office, but the agency has not reported the commencement of any new wall construction.
Between the $1.375 billion approved by Congress and the $6.6 billion that Trump plans to transfer toward wall construction under his emergency powers, administration officials believe they can construct at least 234 miles "of new physical barrier."
Reuters reported that the administration hopes to be able to build a total of more than 700 miles of barrier with the additional funding. The southern border is nearly 2,000 miles long. About 700 miles of barriers are already in place, but most of them consist of vehicle barriers and pedestrian fencing.
Trump's concept of what the wall would look like and how many miles it would stretch has changed over time. While he initially wanted a 30-foot wall of solid concrete stretching at least 1,000 miles, Trump has recently favored tall steel slat barriers often referred to as bollard fencing.
Contributing: John Fritze
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'We hope he learned his lesson,' Pelosi says of report Trump wants $8.6B more for wall