WASHINGTON – United States President Donald Trump insisted on Thursday that Mexico will ultimately pay for a border wall he has pledged to build, saying the US will be reimbursed for the barrier’s cost through savings in a new trade deal with the Aztec nation and Canada.
“One way or the other, Mexico is going to pay for the Wall. This has never changed,” Trump tweeted.
“Our new deal with Mexico (and Canada), the USMCA, is so much better than the old, very costly & anti-USA NAFTA deal, that just by the money we save, MEXICO IS PAYING FOR THE WALL!,” he added.
The US, Mexico and Canada on Nov. 30 signed a trilateral commercial pact in Buenos Aires that replaces the quarter-century-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The agreement known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) still must be ratified by all three countries, with the US legislative hurdle likely to pose the biggest challenge.
A wall on the border to keep out illegal immigrants and the renegotiation of NAFTA, which Trump slammed for destroying American manufacturing jobs and causing large trade deficits with Mexico, were two of the Republican’s main campaign promises.
In a tense meeting this week with leaders of the opposition Democratic Party, Trump called on Congress to approve $5 billion for a wall on the US-Mexico border and threatened to partially shut down the government if lawmakers send him a Department of Homeland Security spending bill that does not contain that funding.
Just eight days remain before funding for several key federal government agencies – including the DHS – expires.
Democrats are united in their opposition to Trump’s wall plan, saying it would be a waste of money and that they will not approve more than $1.6 billion for border security.
Approval for wall funding is particularly unlikely in the Senate because spending bills need 60 votes to clear procedural hurdles and the Republicans only hold a narrow majority.
Trump, who says Democrats oppose the wall for political as opposed to economic reasons, said this month the US military could build the physical barrier on the US-Mexico border if Congress does not approve the necessary funds.
Top Mexican officials, including current President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador and his predecessor, Enrique Peña Nieto, have said their country will not pay for the wall.