Last month the House of Representatives passed a temporary spending bill relating to Trump's border wall, which I believe is the following:

Sec. 141. Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, there is appropriated for ‘U.S. Customs and Border Protection—Procurement, Construction, and Improvements’ $5,710,357,000 for fiscal year 2019, to remain available until September 30, 2023.
H.R.695 - Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018

It doesn't say in the text where this money would come from (or, at least, I didn't find it).

Question: Are there any details as to where the $5,710,357,000 to fund part of Trump's wall would come from?

An answer to What current source(s) of funding is Donald Trump planning to use to pay for the Mexico/US border wall? says it comes from "taxpayer money", but I think this question is more about whether the funds are coming from Mexico or the US. Here, I'm asking about how the US is going to pay for it (putting aside anything related to "Mexico will pay for it").

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    Why 7 significant digits? Why not round it off to 5.7 billion (if using short scale)? Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 14:56
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    The precision of the number in the bill suggests highly precise budgeting, and I thought it might play a role in the answer. Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 15:01
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    I'll bet the Big Dig had a similarly precise original estimate, yet the ultimate cost was an order of magnitude more.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:41
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    And my town is currently planning a high school rebuild, estimates are precise to the dollar even though many details haven't been nailed down yet.
    – Barmar
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:42
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    There seems to be many US government employees whose job it is to care where money comes from (e.g. the US treasury). It seems reasonable to me that they might budget for a major purchase. Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 4:04

2 Answers 2


You can think of the treasury of a government as a big pot of money. There are various streams of inputs (taxes, fees, fines, tariffs, new debt...) and lots and lots of streams of outputs (subsidies, welfare, wages for government employees, running cost of government departments, debt repayment, public construction projects, and many many more).

But inside the pot it's all just money.

There is usually no direct link between input streams and output streams. You can't say "income tax pays for medicaid" or "import tariffs pay for Homeland Security". Everything pays for everything. There are sometimes exceptions where certain government incomes go directly to the budget for a specific cause (like proceeds from civil forfeiture sometimes going directly to the budget of the law enforcement organization which confiscated the property or fuel tax which goes directly to a fund for transportation infrastructure), but these are usually the exception and not the norm. Usually it all goes into the big pot and it all comes out of that big pot.

When people say "Mexico will pay for the wall", then they usually mean "we will generate a new stream of income from Mexico to the US treasury which will be equivalent to what we budgeted for building the wall".

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    Thanks. So I think I should interpret this as meaning "there's no details given, and that's usual". (I was expecting it to be counterbalanced e.g. an increase in taxes, or cutting funding to some government service.) Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 14:00
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones It obviously has to be counterbalanced somewhere, but in the absence of any other increase in revenue or decrease in spending it’s counterbalanced by increased government borrowing (or reduced repayment of borrowing if the government happens to be running an overall budget surplus, which is far from the current situation).
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 15:59
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    Your road example is faulty because most federal road funds come from fuel tax via the Highway Trust Fund. It's a trust fund because the money can't be used for non-highway purposes. Additionally, portions of local and state sales taxes may be specifically designated for certain purposes, e.g. a specific sales tax increase to pay for school bonds.
    – user71659
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 16:57
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    Trump was very specific about how he expected Mexico to pay for the wall until he changed the plan... again.
    – Schwern
    Commented Jan 10, 2019 at 23:29
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    @PaulJohnson: The last paragraph is not violating OP's focus. If anything, it's confirming OP's focus that it's always the US who pays for it and that the "Mexico pays for it" phrase is not literally correct even if Trump gets what he wants. Maybe easier to see when you rephrase the last paragraph: Even when they say "Mexico pays for it", what it really means is "The US always pays for it, and EVEN IF Mexico were to "pay for it", the US would still be paying it the same way as before, but the US would at the same time also ensure there's a separate second influx of money from Mexico.
    – Flater
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 8:50

China will pay for the wall in that all the USA has is borrowed money. All we actually pay out is interest. When we need more money to pay the debt to China and others we borrow it from our other competitors.

However, when we can't pay the interest we have to devalue the dollar by printing more money. So the USA, unlike countries whose money is tied to the US Dollar has an infinite amount of dollars as long as China et al continue to extend the USA credit. But it costs us dearly and all of the currencies of the world that are tied to the Dollar (IE: our real allies).

However, it appears that ultimately the overall strategy of the Teapublicans is to pay for the many miles of "steel slats" by eliminating Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, environmental protections, etc. They hate those programs with a passion and would prefer a society more Dickensian than New Deal. That agenda is thinly veiled. As Paul Ryan said, "We have to have the whole package". IE: Not only eliminate taxation on corporations but also renege on "entitlements" (legally required benefits to the people).

The interest on the debt consumes 8.3 percent of the FY 2019 U.S. federal budget. This means that the wall will forever (until the USA is but a memory, which is just around the corner) have to come up with $473,959,631 to service the debt (the borrower is "servant to the lender"). Or rather, that amount will increase as the debt is compounded.

I don't know about you but I feel safer! NOT. This orange-hair-brained ego trip is no different than a family, already riddled with debt borrows money for an unneeded new Recreational Vehicle (RV), from which they can never recover and are ultimately ruined.

One thing is clear and that is Mexico has decided to decline Trump's offer to pay for the wall. The orange monster's monstrosity will be funded by debt.

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    I don't think this rant is in the spirit of the site - you can't bash republicans and then act and speak like a paid online troll
    – Ant
    Commented Jan 13, 2019 at 16:55

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