WASHINGTON ― President Donald Trump keeps insisting that Mexico is going to pay for his border wall, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said “that’s not the point,” and that the payment debate is just “quibbling.”
“We see this as a national security priority. We see this as something that is of crisis proportions,” Ryan said in an interview with Politico Friday.
“We do believe this is urgent. We do believe this is one of the most important promises the president made running for office,” Ryan said, referring to the building of the wall. “It’s a promise he’s gonna keep. And it’s a promise we’re going to help him keep.”
At the moment, the plan to pay for the estimated $12 billion to $15 billion project comes down to adding it to the debt.
Asked how he can be OK with borrowing for the project, Ryan said there could be a “medley” of ways to pay for it, but he was not committed to making the nation to the south foot the bill.
Asked if Mexico should pay, Ryan said, “That’s not the point.”
“Well, look,” he added. “I’m not going to take bait and drive wedges. I’m going trying to get things done. And I believe we should have a physical barrier at the border.”
He noted that he voted for a bill to build a 700-mile “fence” in 2006. He contended that project is not done, although officials regard it as mostly complete.
Ryan and House Republicans also refused to pass the 2013 immigration bill that would have built an additional 700 miles of fence and hired 19,000 more border agents.
But now, Ryan insisted, Congress will get the wall built, regardless of who pays for it.
“This is what this Congress is actually about ― it’s doing the things we said we would do, restoring the trust with the country,” Ryan said. “So, I’m not going to get into quibbling over whether they should or shouldn’t pay for it. We’ve got to get this thing done because we said we would do it, and we have to deliver.”
He also suggested people should take what Trump says less seriously, referring specifically to the president’s comments Thursday night that torture methods, such as waterboarding, work.
“The president says things like this,” Ryan said. “And I think you and I and everybody else are just going to have to get used to that.”