Texas could help build President Donald Trump’s long-promised border wall, the president suggested Thursday — an idea that apparently came from the state’s outspoken lieutenant governor, a vocal advocate for border security.
At a McAllen roundtable Thursday with a number of Texas officials, Trump said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick — a Republican who visited the White House earlier this week to talk border security — had offered to play a role in the wall’s construction.
“One of the things that Dan Patrick suggested, which I thought was very interesting, was: Give the state of Texas a relatively small amount of money — they’ll build a wall themselves, cause they wanna build it,” Trump said Thursday afternoon at a McAllen roundtable.
It’s unclear how serious Trump is about the proposal. Neither the lieutenant governor’s office nor the White House immediately returned a request for comment.
“I thought that was not the worst idea I’ve ever heard. Although, I still think I can do it cheaper than you,” Trump said Thursday. “You do things very well in Texas, and I like that idea, so we’ll take a look.”
The comment came on day 20 of a partial federal government shutdown — the result of a stalemate between Trump and Congress over Trump’s signature campaign promise. A number of Texas officials joined Trump at the border Thursday afternoon to discuss the need for border security, including both of the state’s U.S. senators, Patrick himself and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Patrick traveled to the White House Tuesday and met with the president’s son in law, Jared Kushner, about border security issues and the president’s Monday night televised address on the border wall. A Trump ally who chaired the president’s 2016 campaign in Texas, the lieutenant governor has expressed support for a border wall.
And in a series of public addresses on Wednesday, Patrick spoke of the need for a border wall stretching from Brownsville to Falcon Lake, a distance of under 200 miles — shy of the 1,200-mile wall Trump has sometimes called for.
Patrick also pledged on Wednesday that Texas’ biennial budget, which will be crafted over the next several months, will contain $800 million for border security, the same amount it included in the current two-year budget.
Even the suggestion that Texas might help build the controversial structure drew immediate rebukes from top state Democrats.
Trump also said Thursday that Patrick had encouraged him to be clearer about how Mexico would fund the wall — indirectly, Trump claimed, through a new trade deal that has yet to be approved by Congress, not via a check from the Mexican government.
“And Dan said, ‘Will you do me a favor? Say that,'” the president said.