border rhetoric meets reality orig alee_00003304.jpg
border rhetoric meets reality orig alee_00003304.jpg
Now playing
01:34
Where border rhetoric meets reality
trump border wall explainer animation orig nws_00003622.jpg
trump border wall explainer animation orig nws_00003622.jpg
Now playing
02:34
What it would take to build Trump's border wall
us mexico border fence jpm orig_00004913.jpg
CNN
us mexico border fence jpm orig_00004913.jpg
Now playing
01:12
What the US-Mexico border really looks like
Now playing
03:06
Fact Check: Construction on a new border wall?
CNN
Now playing
01:09
Trump orders National Guard troops to border
US President Donald Trump (C) is shown border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (C) is shown border wall prototypes in San Diego, California on March 13, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:32
Trump's military guard may face legal hurdles
A member of the Arizona National Guard talks on the phone on April 9, 2018 at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix.
Arizona deployed its first 225 National Guard members to the Mexican border on Monday after President Donald Trump ordered thousands of troops to the frontier region to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration. "The Arizona National Guard will deploy 225 members of the Guard today to support border security measures," the state militia said in a statement.
 / AFP PHOTO / Caitlin O'Hara        (Photo credit should read CAITLIN O'HARA/AFP/Getty Images)
CAITLIN O'HARA/AFP/Getty Images
A member of the Arizona National Guard talks on the phone on April 9, 2018 at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix. Arizona deployed its first 225 National Guard members to the Mexican border on Monday after President Donald Trump ordered thousands of troops to the frontier region to combat drug trafficking and illegal immigration. "The Arizona National Guard will deploy 225 members of the Guard today to support border security measures," the state militia said in a statement. / AFP PHOTO / Caitlin O'Hara (Photo credit should read CAITLIN O'HARA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:09
Here's what border troops are actually doing
trump border wall cali
CNN
trump border wall cali
Now playing
02:31
Trump posts misleading tweet on border wall
A group of Central Americans crossed into Mexico in March as part of a migrant "caravan" heading to the United States border.
CNN
A group of Central Americans crossed into Mexico in March as part of a migrant "caravan" heading to the United States border.
Now playing
01:18
What the caravan crossing Mexico really wants
pool
Now playing
01:17
Trump touts wall prototypes in San Diego
Paul Ryan defends border wall_00000000.jpg
Paul Ryan defends border wall_00000000.jpg
Now playing
02:07
Paul Ryan defends $14 billion border wall
Rep. Marsha Blackburn newday
CNN
Rep. Marsha Blackburn newday
Now playing
01:17
GOP lawmaker on border wall: It will get done
Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel and President Donnald Trump
US District Court/Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel and President Donnald Trump
Now playing
02:58
Judge taunted by Trump to hear border wall case
Now playing
01:06
GOP Sen.: Trump border wall a metaphor
Border Series Arizona
Tim Foley Video
Border Series Arizona
Now playing
03:43
Illegal border crossing can be a dangerous journey
Enrique Peña Nieto
Mexican State TV
Enrique Peña Nieto
Now playing
00:50
Mexico's president: We will not pay for wall

Story highlights

Congress has so far declined to provide any money to build a wall

Democrats have been united against the idea

Washington CNN —  

President Donald Trump suggested his oft-promised border wall could be covered in solar panels in a meeting with congressional leaders, according to sources familiar with the conversation.

Trump had convened Republican leaders at the White House for a conversation about their legislative agenda, largely on health care and the debt ceiling.

But during the meeting Trump also suggested his border wall could be built with solar panels as a way to pay for it, according to sources familiar with the conversation.

Axios and Politico were first to report the President’s comments.

Trump was meeting with House Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Whip Steve Scalise and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Whip John Cornyn.

In a joint statement, McConnell and Ryan called the meeting “good, productive” and “focused on … how we can accomplish our goals.”

Though Trump repeatedly promised a wall along the entire southern border during the campaign – paid for by Mexico, he said – Congress has yet to appropriate any money to the administration to follow through.

The Department of Homeland Security was allowed by congressional appropriators to move $20 million from elsewhere in the budget to support the construction of some prototypes for wall options.

In the pitch process this spring, at least two companies proposed designs that included solar panels, per designs that were shared with CNN. DHS has yet to select its top proposals.

After being rebuffed by Congress for money to build any wall in fiscal year 2017, the administration has asked appropriators for $1.6 billion to build 74 miles in 2018, according to DHS: 32 miles of wall in the Rio Grande Valley, 28 miles for levee wall in the Rio Grande Valley and 14 miles of replacement for secondary fencing in San Diego.

While Trump has discussed a concrete wall dozens of feet high, Kelly has told Congress that Border Patrol agents on the ground say different solutions may be better – especially that any border barrier should be see-through, so agents can have an understanding of what is happening on the other side.

Kelly also testified before the Senate this spring that the wall would not stretch “from sea to shining sea,” but would be placed selectively where it made the most strategic sense.

Even though Democrats tend to support renewable energy, it’s unlikely that an offer to add solar panels would change their united opposition to any money to build Trump’s wall.

Republicans need Democratic votes to pass government spending in the Senate, and if enough conservative members of the House balked at the price tag, they could be necessary in the House. Democrats have said categorically they will not agree to funds for Trump’s wall or his aggressive immigration enforcement actions, and many Republican lawmakers who represent border states have said they would only support reasonable solutions and not a 2,000-mile massive barrier.

CNN’s Phil Mattingly, Jeremy Diamond and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.