White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday fervently denied that funding and the beginning of construction on President Donald Trump’s proposed wall on the United States’ border with Mexico will be delayed.
“Yesterday, President Trump reportedly said that he’s going to delay pushing the wall through. Can you just clarify what the status is?” Associated Press reporter Vivian Salama asked Spicer at his daily briefing.
“I think he tweeted about this earlier,” Spicer replied. “His priorities have not changed. There will be a wall built.”
Spicer said that there is “plenty of planning that can be done” in the current fiscal year.
“Our priorities are clear going into FY17, the remainder of budgeting for that, and we’ll continue to ask for more in FY18,” he said, referring to fiscal years 2017 and 2018.
“So it’s delayed for now,” Salama pressed.
“No, I didn’t — no, no, no, no. I never — no one said delayed. No, no,” Spicer said.
White House officials over the weekend signaled uncertainty as to whether Trump would be willing to sign a must-pass spending bill to avert a government shutdown if it did not include funding for his proposed border wall.
The Washington Post reported on Monday, citing an unnamed White House official, that Trump privately told conservative journalists he “was open to delaying funding for wall construction.”
White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway said Tuesday morning that funding the wall “can happen later this year and into next year.”
Spicer appeared to remain adamant, however, telling ABC’s Jon Karl that Trump has not backed down.
Trump himself took to Twitter to exhort followers: “Don’t let the fake media tell you that I have changed my position on the WALL.”
“So is the President no longer insisting that there is money for the wall in this current appropriations bill?” Karl asked Spicer during the briefing.
“The President’s priorities are clear for FY17. There’s a lot of things that we can do in the remaining months,” Spicer said again. “And then as we go into FY18 we’ll continue to ask for more.”
“So the President is not insisting that he has money for actual construction of the wall?” Karl asked.
“Look, I’m not going to get — we are still in discussions with the House and Senate leadership. But I think the President’s been very clear that he wants a wall,” Spicer said. “He wants it done as soon as we can do it.”