Trump pushing for steel barrier instead of concrete wall at border

President TrumpDonald John TrumpStates slashed 4,400 environmental agency jobs in past decade: study Biden hammers Trump over video of world leaders mocking him Iran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report MORE said Sunday that his administration is pushing for a steel barrier rather than a concrete wall along the southern border, calling it a "good solution" amid a partial government shutdown centered on discussions over funding for the structure.

Trump's declaration came after he spent the day meeting with advisers at Camp David and following meetings between Vice President Pence and Democratic congressional aides. While Trump suggested the shift in materials might appease Democrats, the party has opposed the wall as a matter of effectiveness.

"We've been in touch with a lot of people and I informed my folks to say that we'll build a steel barrier, steel, that it will be made out of steel, that it will be less obtrusive and stronger," Trump told reporters at the White House upon returning from Camp David.

Trump said steel would "give us great strength," and suggested that Democrats opposed a concrete barrier.


"They don't like concrete, so we'll give them steel," Trump said, saying the material will look "beautiful" and be "stronger" than concrete.

Russell T. Vought, the acting director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in a letter to congressional leaders on Sunday requested $5.7 billion for "234 miles of new physical barrier" made of steel, The Washington Post reported

The letter included a request for $800 million to "address urgent humanitarian needs," including assistance for unaccompanied migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the Post. 

Trump said earlier in the day that he plans to reach out to the head of United States Steel and other companies to inquire about a design.

Early Sunday evening, Trump affirmed in a tweet his plan to focus on a steel barrier. He said Pence and representatives for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiTrump's legal team huddles with Senate Republicans On The Money: Falling impeachment support raises pressure for Dems on trade | Trump escalates fight over tech tax | Biden eyes minimum tax for corporations | Fed's top regulator under pressure over Dodd-Frank rules Overnight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Virginia moves to suspend Medicaid work rules | Powerful House panel sets 'Medicare for All' hearing | Hospitals sue over Trump price rule | FDA official grilled on vaping policy MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care — Presented by Johnson & Johnson — Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law | Michigan governor seeks to pause Medicaid work requirements | New front in fight over Medicaid block grants House, Senate Democrats call on Supreme Court to block Louisiana abortion law Why a second Trump term and a Democratic Congress could be a nightmare scenario for the GOP MORE (D-N.Y.) had a "productive meeting" that covered "Many details of Border Security." 

A Democratic official familiar with the meeting pushed back on Trump's description of the talks, saying "no progress was made." The White House did not suggest any cuts to the Homeland Security budget to offset its desired increases, and Pence indicated Trump would not back a series of funding and legislative measures to re-open the government that passed in the House last week, the official said.

The official said there is not another meeting with the same group scheduled as of Sunday evening.

The president has in recent weeks shifted his language surrounding his desired wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing at various times that the structure could be called "fencing" and that it would be "artistically designed."

Democrats have said their opposition to the wall is a matter of morals and effectiveness. Democratic lawmakers have argued the wall would not be a good deterrent to illegal immigration, and that investments should be made in technology to secure the border.

Trump has demanded more than $5 billion in funding for the wall, while Democrats have offered $1.3 billion for broader border security measures and no money for the wall.

The disagreement has been at the center of a partial government shutdown that has lasted 16 days and counting.

Vice President Pence met for a second straight day on Sunday with congressional aides to discuss border security. Trump said there would be "very serious talks" during the week.

Trump reiterated Sunday that he is considering declaring a national emergency to unilaterally direct the construction of the border wall, though lawmakers in both parties have dismissed that proposal, with Democrats questioning its legality.

The president also threw cold water on the potential for a border security deal that would include protections for "Dreamers" who benefit from the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Trump rescinded the program, which allows children brought to the U.S. illegally to live and work here without fear of deportation.

Trump said he preferred to wait for the Supreme Court to offer a final ruling on the legality of DACA before seeking out a deal with Democrats.

Updated at 9:57 p.m.

--Emily Birnbaum contributed