Donald Trump says his wall may cost more than $10bn if he makes it 'super-duper'

Mythili Sampathkumar
Donald Trump said unless he makes the border wall with Mexico 'super-duper,' it will cost less than $10 billion, far lower than most estimates: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump has said that his border wall - a point of contention in a spending bill that could shut down the federal government - could cost more than $10bn (£7.8bn) if he decides to make it 'super-duper'.

He guaranteed the nearly 2,000-mile border wall with Mexico will be built and will "maybe" come in above his estimate if it “super-duper, higher, better, better security, everything else”.

Many estimates put the cost of the wall at closer to $25bn (£19.5bn) to account for repairs, new construction, materials, labour, land acquisition, and various terrain.

Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer said even with Mr Trump’s lower estimate, Mr Trump's insistence on Americans funding it is a “poison pill” for a budget deal, which has to be reached by 28 April in order to keep the federal government operating.

Matt House, Mr Schumer’s spokesman, quipped: “Democrats thought Mexico was supposed to pay for the wall.”

Mr Schumer is “hopeful” a deal can be reached by then but said the “fly in the ointment is that the president is being a little heavy-handed, and mixing in and asking for things such as the (border) wall.“

On MSNBC, Mr Schumer noted he and the President do speak to each other regularly. However he said Mr Trump is “mainly interested in talking about what he wants to talk about.”

There was talk of a “dollar-for-dollar deal” involving the border wall and the Republican replacement to Obamacare healthcare legislation, Politico reported.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said the White House told Democrats they would fund $1 in Obamacare subsidies for every $1 that’s provided for the border wall in an effort to avoid a shutdown, which Democrats have refused to consider because it appears to hold Americans access to healthcare "hostage."

The wall is not the only issue being debated for the spending bill.

Democrats want federal funding for women's health organisation Planned Parenthood, but Republicans oppose supporting it because of the nationwide system of clinics' abortion services. Only three per cent of services offered by Planned Parenthood are abortion-related, however.

In his proposed budget from February, Mr Trump also called for a $54bn (£42bn) increase in defence spending at the cost of cuts to programmes for environmental protection, diplomacy, maritime security, and urban housing subsidies.

The last time the federal government shutdown was in October 2013 during former President Barack Obama’s second term. Republicans orchestrated the 17-day shutdown in an effort to repeal Obamacare, which was ultimately unsuccessful in that goal.

Mr Trump told AP he “just doesn’t know yet” whether he would sign off on a spending bill that did not include the Mexico border wall.