Trump Repeats Making Mexico Pay for Wall as He Seeks Funding
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump on Sunday renewed his pledge to make Mexico pay for the construction of a border wall between the U.S and Mexico, days after threatening to trigger a government shutdown if congressional Republicans don’t include funding as they tackle a spending bill due Sept. 30.
And Mexico just as forcefully said, “no chance.”
Trump posted successive tweets on Sunday suggesting the U.S. may have to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement and repeating his oft-stated pledge during the campaign that the U.S. would build a wall and Mexico would pay for it.
“With Mexico being one of the highest crime nations in the world, we must have THE WALL,” Trump tweeted, adding that, “Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other.”
The president did not elaborate on how Mexico would cover the cost. The White House previously has suggested that one possibility is a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico.
Mexico´s Foreign Ministry issued a press release that didn’t leave any question about the country’s response.
“As the government of Mexico has always maintained, our country will not pay, in any way or under any circumstances, for a wall or physical barrier built on US territory along the Mexican border,” the release said. “This determination is not part of a Mexican negotiating strategy, but a principle of national sovereignty and dignity.”
The release said that violence and the trafficking of drugs and arms is a “shared responsibility,” and it even expressed “full solidarity with the people and government of the United States for the damages caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas” with the offer of help from the Mexican government.
Trump’s Twitter posts about Mexico were part of a series of early-morning tweets that also praised the disaster response to Harvey, promoted a book by a controversial sheriff in Wisconsin and plugged his own upcoming visit to Missouri and a trip he said he wants to make to Texas to view areas affected by the hurricane.
Trump has asked for $1.6 billion to begin border wall construction, but not all congressional Republicans agree about the merits of a fight to spend potentially billions more on a border barrier as they seek to pay for tax cuts.
At a rally last week in Phoenix, Trump told supporters, “If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” and that “one way or the other, we’re going to get that wall.”
One leading House conservative said Friday that he could support a short-term bill to fund the government after Sept. 30 and delay the fight over wall funding until December.
“I’m willing to do it whenever it makes sense,” said Representative Jim Jordan, a founder of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. House Speaker Paul Ryan also has suggested a better time for a stand would be when the House and Senate negotiate final fiscal 2018 spending bills later in the year.
Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday that he was confident Congress would meet Trump’s budget request. He wouldn’t speculate on whether the president would veto a measure without it.
Asked about Mexico paying for the wall, Bossert said the initial focus is on getting an appropriation to build the barrier.
“As we work with the Mexicans in other policies and trade policies and such, we’ll determine ways for us to make that right,” he said.
Trump, a week into his presidency, indicated to Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto that he understood the Mexican government would not outright pay the U.S. to build a border wall. But he implored him to stop saying so publicly, according to transcripts of the January 27 call obtained by the Washington Post.
The president said that “we are both in a little bit of a political bind” but that he knew the funding would work out “somehow” and “come out in the wash.” At the same time, according to the report, he said that “if you are going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.”
Trump also said on Twitter that both Mexico and Canada were being “very difficult” in talks to renegotiate Nafta, which he called the “worst trade deal ever made,” and he said the U.S. might have to simply terminate it.
The Foreign Ministry said in its statement that Mexico will not negotiate Nafta or any other aspect of the bilateral relationship “through social networks or the media.”
Mexico’s foreign minister, Luis Videgaray, said Aug. 23 that Nafta talks are continuing and if Trump really wanted to break up the pact, he would have done so already.
The next round of negotiations is scheduled for Sept. 1-5 in Mexico, and the U.S., Mexico and Canada ended the first round with a joint statement saying they’re committed to wrapping up the negotiations quickly with a far-reaching deal.