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GOP leaders say Congress will pay up to $15B to build border wall

(AP Photo)

Congressional leaders said Thursday they will move legislation this year providing up to $15 billion to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border, but weren’t sure the effect it would have on the deficit.

House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said during a GOP strategy retreat in Philadelphia that legislation will put up $12 billion to $15 billion for constructing the wall. President Donald Trump announced in an executive action Wednesday.

Congress will pay for “the construction of the physical barrier on the border,” Ryan said.

McConnell added, “We intend to address the wall issue ourselves.”

The president campaigned strenuously and tirelessly on that issue. Trump laid out his immigration plan in a speech in Phoenix last August.

But Ryan and the other leaders offered no details on how the wall would be paid for, saying they would wait until the White House’s proposal.

Mexico has said it would not pay for the wall and on Thursday, President Enrique Pena Nieto said he was no longer attending a meeting scheduled with Trump.

“We will be, in a form, reimbursed by Mexico … absolutely, 100 percent,” Trump told ABC News’ David Muir.

Pressed on whether construction would increase federal deficits, Ryan said Republicans were fiscal conservatives and there were ways to strengthen the budget.

Ryan had previously used figures ranging from $8 billion to $14 billion as his estimate for the cost of the wall.

Trump was to speak later to House and Senate GOP lawmakers at the yearly policy retreat.

There were signs that Congress might not easily go along with fronting the money for Trump’s border plan.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., would not commit to approving the billions Trump wanted.

“Look, I haven’t seen cost estimates, I don’t know what exactly he’s talking about,” Gardner told CNN on Thursday. He said making good on border security was “an issue of trust with the American people.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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