Aug 28, 2019

Trump plans to fast-track border wall construction ahead of 2020 election

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

President Trump is determined to speed up construction on the southern border wall to deliver on his 2016 campaign promise ahead of the 2020 election, reports the Washington Post.

The state of play: Trump has "directed aides to fast-track billions of dollars' worth of construction contracts, aggressively seize private land and disregard environmental rules," current and former administration officials told the Post. The president has previously promised to complete 500 miles of fence before the election, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has only completed 60 miles of "replacement" barrier so far.

  • Trump allegedly joked to aides, telling them to approve orders and move forward with the wall even if the directives were illegal or unworkable. He reportedly suggested that he would pardon them later, found the Post.

The big picture: Trump also acknowledged that building the wall isn't the most "effective" option to deter illegal immigration, but he continues to insist on bringing the border wall to fruition because his supporters want it, writes the Post.

  • Recently, Trump supporters have erupted in "Finish the Wall!" chants at his re-election campaign rallies.

Yes, but: Trump's persistence that the border wall be painted black is also delaying the process and driving costs up, says the Washington Post. The dark coating is meant to make the wall too hot and slippery to climb. However, painting a single mile of the wall in California cost $1 million.

What's next: Defense Secretary Mark Esper is expected to redirect $3.6 billion in Pentagon funds to build the border wall.

  • Trump has been looking for ways to fund the project after Congress refused to give him $5 billion for it, per the Washington Post.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.