WASHINGTON - President-elect Donald Trump on Friday disputed claims that American taxpayers would be on the hook for a border wall with Mexico.
Speaking to the New York Times, Trump said that the wall would initially be funded through Congress, but the money would eventually be repaid by Mexico.
"We're going to get reimbursed," Trump said. "But I don't want to wait that long. But you start, and then you get reimbursed."
Trump's comments came after Friday news reports cited House Republicans who said Trump's transition team wanted to start work on the wall as soon as possible and would seek funding through the appropriations process to do so.
Trump has in the past suggested that Mexico would reimburse the U.S. for the wall's costs. He took to Twitter to call the reports "dishonest."
The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 6, 2017
"The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!" he said.
Now, congressional Republicans are putting forth ideas to build the wall.
The plan revolves around a little-know law passed in 2006 that mandates the construction of 700 miles of "reinforced fencing" along the southern US border.
The Secure Fence Act of 2006 was never fully implemented, though Republican lawmakers now see it as a viable option to fulfill one of Trump's most prominent campaign promises.
“It's an existing law that hasn't been implemented, in part based on the ideology and philosophy of the outgoing president,” Republican Congressman Luke Messer told The Washington Post. “I see nothing partisan about trying to comply with existing laws.”
While taking this route to build the wall wouldn't guarantee repayment from Mexico, New York Congressman Chris Collins, who works on Trump's transition team, said he isn't worried because he believes trade between the two countries is so important, Mexico would have no choice but to comply.
“When you understand that Mexico's economy is dependent upon U.S. consumers, Donald Trump has all the cards he needs to play,” Collins told CNN. “On the trade negotiation side, I don't think it's that difficult for Donald Trump to convince Mexico that it's in their best interest to reimburse us for building the wall.”