Trump budget asks more than US$200 billion for infrastructure, border security: White House

Prototypes for US President Trump's border wall with Mexico are seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan 27, 2018.
Prototypes for US President Trump's border wall with Mexico are seen behind the current border fence in this picture taken in Tijuana, Mexico, on Jan 27, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House said on Sunday (Feb 11) its budget proposal would include US$200 billion (S$265 billion) for infrastructure spending and US$23 billion for enhanced border security to help fulfill campaign promises by US President Donald Trump.

The budget plan to be released on Monday (US time) also proposes a US$3 trillion deficit cut over 10 years, White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said in a statement.

"Just like every American family, the Budget makes hard choices: fund what we must, cut where we can, and reduce what we borrow," Mulvaney added.

He said the plan would also request federal funds for opioid treatment programmes and improving the health of military veterans.

Presidential budgets carry no enforcement mechanism and are viewed largely by Congress as suggestions.

Topping the priorities in the budget plan is the US$200 billion request in federal funds to spur about US$1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments with state, local and private partners, Mulvaney said.

Following last week's congressional passage of a two-year spending plan, Mulvaney said the administration was also seeking"US$21 billion to jumpstart key elements of the infrastructure initiative".

 
 
 

The budget plan will request more than US$23 billion for border security and immigration enforcement, including US$18 billion over two years to build a border wall with Mexico, Mulvaney said.

Trump has promised to build the border wall to keep out illegal immigrants and drug smugglers. Democrats oppose funding the wall, which they view as unnecessary.

The budget proposal also includes US$782 million to hire and support 2,750 additional officers and agents at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Mulvaney said.

Coupled with that proposed spending is a US$2.7 billion request to pay for what the White House called an "average daily detention capacity of 52,000 illegal aliens at ICE, the agency's highest-ever detention level".

The budget also seeks US$85.5 billion in discretionary funding for veteran health services, including homelessness programmes, readjustment counselling and vocational rehabilitation.

The budget request will be delivered to Congress only days after Trump signed into law a bipartisan spending agreement hammered out by lawmakers that will increase domestic spending by US$300 billion over two years - including $165 billion in defence spending and US$131 billion in non-military domestic spending.

Mulvaney said earlier on Sunday that all that money did not need to be spent.