Title pretty much says it all. The Republicans controlled both the House and the Senate before the midterms, so why didn't they push through funding for the wall then? The Republicans had two years to do this, and the Democrats would've had a harder time opposing the bill. Why now?

Did Trump, his administration's officials, or any prominent Republican ever explain why haven't they allocated the financing of "the wall" in the Federal Budget 2018?

The only explanation I can think of is that Republicans were very confident they'd win the midterms, but that doesn't seem to match the media coverage I saw.

  • 3
    Questions about internal motivation are offtopic here, because they can only result in speculation. In fact, we simply don't know why. You could ask instead, if maybe Trump and Republican lawmakers in Congress said something about why they didn't allocate that much money for border security in 2017. Maybe they commented on it then. Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 12:47
  • 5
    I think it's super worth noting that the Senate Republicans never had the 60 votes required to pass the bill in the senate, so even though it was "GOP controlled", it would still have this passing issue Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 22:51
  • 1
    Because if you cannot give evidence that a majority of senators wanted a wall and were capable of getting a bill through the house and senate, then your question is basically "why did something that hardly anyone wanted and they couldn't get done even if they wanted it not get done?" The question answers itself when you phrase it like that. Stuff people do not want that they cannot do anyway is stuff that doesn't get done! Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 6:06
  • 2
    @Allure: 100% of republican senators voted for a spending bill with no funding for the wall. Is that evidence for, or against, the proposition that republican senators want a wall? But regardless, I'm not the one asking a "why not?" question here. The onus is on the person asking the "why not?" question to explain why it is that a counterfactual should require an explanation. There are an infinite number of ways that the world is not; we can't provide a justification for all of them. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 7:59
  • 1
    Another way to look at it is: evidence that republican senators want a wall would include their being willing to bargain for democratic senators' votes by agreeing to fund something equally important to democrats. The problem isn't coming up with the money. The problem is coming up with something to give democrats in exchange for their agreement. If you want me to give you a cookie, and you're willing to give me absolutely nothing that I want in exchange, then that sounds like evidence that you don't really want my cookie. Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 8:06

5 Answers 5


Congress did provide funding for border barriers in each of FY 2017

In FY 2017 Congress provided DHS $292 million to build 40 miles of a steel bollard wall

and FY 2018

In FY18, Congress provided $1.375B for border wall construction which equates to approximately 84 miles of border wall in multiple locations across the Southwest border

Currently at issue is $5B funding for FY 2019

if funded at $5B in FY 2019 ... DHS is positioned to construct 215 miles of Border Patrol’s highest priority border wall miles

which would be for 215 miles of additional border barrier, for a total of 330 miles of border barrier - including FY 2017, FY 2018 and FY 2019.

Primary source: Walls Work

See also Is there any better estimate of the cost of a completed US-Mexico border wall?

  • 16
    That doesn't really answer the question. These small bills are nowhere near what Trump proposed.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 16:48
  • 56
    @JJJ: Trump proposed that the wall would require no funding from Congress whatsoever because "Mexico will pay for it". Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 17:00
  • 23
    @JJJ Mexico came out and said they weren't paying for it rather quickly and have not deviated from that stance at any point.
    – Michael W.
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 18:25
  • 19
    @JJJ It is true. Trump has said many times that he would make Mexico pay for the wall. Exactly how he would make them pay for it has changed somewhat erratically over the past few years, though.
    – Abion47
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 23:21
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    @guest271314 Well, the 2016 RNC Platform seems to state that pretty clearly: "we support building a wall along our southern border and protecting all ports of entry. The border wall must cover the entirety of the southern border and must be sufficient to stop both vehicular and pedestrian traffic." source: scribd.com/document/318660213/RNC-Platform#from_embed Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 3:20

For funding bills, it takes 60 votes to pass in the Senate. Before the mid-terms, Republicans only had 51 votes (with some defectors, like Flake and Corker). They have 53 votes now but still need 7 votes from Democrats.

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    I wonder what happens if you do not have the 60 votes ever. Complete breakdown? Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 21:27
  • @Trilarion Then your bill doesn't get passed. If at least 41 Senators are unwilling to pass something even as part of a compromise for something else, then that thing doesn't get passed. This is why Democrats it was so hard for Democrats to pass ARRA and PPACA bacn in Obama's first couple of years, even with a Senate majority much larger than that held by the GOP in Trump's first two years.
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 21:32
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    @Trilarion If 41 Senators were completely stonewalling everything and preventing anything from passing for an extended period, then the so-called "Nuclear option" might be employed to abolish the filibuster. But, as Harry Reid found out the hard way, that's a decision that you can come to regret very soon once the other party gains a majority.
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 21:34
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    @PilotGal I'm not so sure that "the right way" is creating the longest shutdown in US history, but your mileage may vary.
    – Michael W.
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 22:28
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    @MichaelW. - By "the right way", I meant as defined in the US Constitution. But, I understand your point.
    – PilotGal
    Commented Jan 16, 2019 at 12:13

Mostly because the Republicans hammered out a pretty hefty budget deal in early 2018

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced a deal on budget caps that would increase investments in domestic programs and the military by roughly $300 billion over the next two years: The deal lifts funding for domestic programs by $128 billion and hikes defense budgets by $160 billion.

Remember that the last shutdown was caused by Democrats stonewalling over DACA

The bill does not address the fate of young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children and have been shielded from deportation by an Obama-era program, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, that Mr. Trump moved last year to end.

Republicans likely did not want to reopen the DACA issue in an election year, nor did they want to irk more Conservative members of their own party by spending even more on top of the massive deficit the budget created

That additional spending comes at the expense of adding even further to the national debt, which has topped $21 trillion. The growing debt has seemed of minimal concern on Capitol Hill in recent months, where Republicans passed a sweeping tax overhaul late last year that will also result in piling up more debt.

To some frustrated lawmakers, the heft of the spending bill was the very problem.

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    There is a lot of speculation about Republicans intentions in this answer. Please note that the question now asks for official statements. Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 21:26

The short answer is no.

First, there is already about 700 miles of border wall. Trump's "wall" is a political tool to rally his base and nothing more, as proven by the fact that the GOP controlled congress, since Obama was in office, has chosen to do nothing to reform our immigration system, including punishing employers who hire undocumented workers. There is also the fact that no crisis exists, thus making dealing with immigration reform less urgent. Read Key findings about U.S. immigrants for some information about our immigration situation to see why "the wall" is unnecessary.

Trump is theater and the wall is part of that theater.

  • 3
    Links tend to go dead over time and it's also not clear how you're reaching your conclusion from the source you cite, so it would be best to quote the relevant parts and describe why it supports your position. The linked article is discussing immigration as a whole, not just unlawful immigration, but does mention that there are were more than 300,000 unlawful immigrants captured at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2017 (and, of course, that's not counting the ones who actually make it through without being caught.)
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 15, 2019 at 21:28
  • The salient point is that the Trump administration hasn't explained why "the wall" wasn't built prior to the shut down even though the GOP had total control of the federal government since Trump's inauguration. More than likely the reasons are two: a) we already have about 700 miles of border fence/wall and (b) there really is no crisis now, January, 2019, including from those undocumented aliens living here now.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 0:28
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    There is exactly one reason: they didn't have the votes in the Senate. The House did pass a bill including funding for "the wall," which then immediately died in the Senate, due to Republicans having only 51 votes. 60 are required to invoke cloture and vote on the bill. While Reid did (stupidly) employ the so-called "nuclear option" to remove the filibuster rule for nominee confirmations (a move Democrats have since deeply regretted,) the rule remains in place for normal votes on bills.
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 3:04
  • True, but they never explained that, which would have required them to explain why they, the GOP and Trump, didn't work with the Democrats to actually solve the immigration problem, which would have included providing a path to citizenship for the Dreamers and the use of drones and sensors instead of a physical barrier. IMO, they calculated that they had more to gain politically with their base from concealing their refusal to work with the Democrats, a la Newt Gingrich.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 17, 2019 at 17:06
  • @Jeff So in Jan 2019 during the shutdown, when Schumer and Pelosi specifically stated that they were not willing to negotiate with Trump on funding for the wall (raising funding from 1.3B to 5.7B and also refusing a 2.5B compromise from Pence), would you say that it was the Republicans or the Democrats that refused to work on the issue.
    – Shorlan
    Commented Nov 6, 2020 at 0:27

Here's a few facts about WHY these things take a long long time...

  1. It's NOT a quick process. I'll explain a bit more about why down below. Here's the accelerated schedule for just a few RGV sectors.
  • Even when the real estate is available, it takes a long time. Construction is not particularly slower for a 55 mile section than a 3 mile section!
  • Just the planning and materials acquisition is half a year;
  • Custom design is almost half a year
  • Real Estate acquisition is half a year to over a year... and that's quite optimistic

RGV timeline, p5 RGV-010-Brief-20170426-Pptx.pdf (This is from "Levee Wall Overview, Border Infrastructure PMO", Bob Hardbarger 28 April 2017 US Army Corps of Engineers

  1. Politicians talk about "The Wall". Actual CBP border people, and those responsible for construction and use, talk about the Border Wall System. It's not just a chunk of concrete with metal on top!

a) In the area MOST impacted, the LRGV (Lower Rio Grande Valley), there's an existing levee that goes back at LEAST to 1915. Bringing everything up to modern standards requires at the least improving the levee to match FEMA certification requirements. Here's another diagram (same source as the above, page 6 this time:

Basic Levee Wall

b) Here's a diagram describing the overall Wall System. I've seen the RFC's (Requests for Contract) ... the fancy FODS (Fiber Optic Detection System) had to be installed... yet actually lighting up the detectors is a whole separate process taking still more time. Just consider what's involved in spec'ing and building this much (particularly w/ careful environmental etc assessments along the way. They were allowed to overrule many complaints but they still had to do everything possible to make it as good as possible!). Same source (because it's handy ;) )

CBP RGV Wall System Enforcement Zone

NOTE: I just did an intensive search for these documents online. I have a whole collection. Amazingly, they have been removed everywhere that I can find. That includes the place I absolutely would expect to find the one referenced in this post: the USACE Digital Library, which includes responsive FOIA documents, of which this is one! There are lots of older documents, but NOTHING on this subject at all. Isn't that interesting!

  • I can see why actually building the wall takes a long time, but what about pushing through funding to build the war?
    – Allure
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 9:34
  • As others have noted, it takes a supermajority in the Senate to pass anything. So, the R's couldn't do it... not that way at least. President Trump redirected funds as a national security issue, so money wasn't really the issue. The massive misinformation campaign in the media/D party certainly slowed things down. In south Tx (an area I'm somewhat familiar with), it was crazy how much misinformation and fear was generated. The original question was why it couldn't be done before the mid-terms. That gave two years from the day T got in office. Look at the timeline above. IMPOSSIBLE.
    – MrPete
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 20:12

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