Trump to make lower, US$2 billion spending request for border wall

A Mexican flag and a banner reading "Trump, let Mexicans enter the US to work" are seen during a demonstration at the US-Mexico border in Playas de Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on Feb 2, 2020.
A Mexican flag and a banner reading "Trump, let Mexicans enter the US to work" are seen during a demonstration at the US-Mexico border in Playas de Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on Feb 2, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Donald Trump will request US$2 billion (S$2.78 billion) in new funding for border wall construction in his 2021 budget, substantially less than he sought last year, according to senior administration officials.

The lower request, due to be unveiled on Monday (Feb 10), shows that the administration needs fewer new resources to build the wall along the US-Mexico border after it shifted resources to the construction project from the US military.

The sum was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

A year ago, the Trump administration asked Congress to provide US$5 billion for the wall, on top of US$3.6 billion to replenish funding the administration had taken from military construction projects.

At a re-election campaign event on Jan 30, Republican Trump renewed his promise of the 2016 campaign to make Mexico pay for the wall, part of his immigration policy to reduce the number of people entering the United States.

"Illegal aliens from Mexico are going to pay for the wall ... through remittance, 100 per cent," Trump said.

The White House on Monday will also propose a big jump in US government spending on artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information sciences research and development in its 2021 budget proposal.

The Trump administration wants Congress to double spending on AI R&D funding from US$973 million to nearly US$2 billion by 2022 and to double spending on quantum information sciences spending to US$860 million within two years.