Published: Fri, February 14, 2020
Global News | By Blake Casey

Pentagon transfers $3.8 billion to fund border wall. Congress rages

Pentagon transfers $3.8 billion to fund border wall. Congress rages

The Pentagon will once again shift billions of dollars in its accounts in order to fund hundreds of miles of new border wall at the request of the Department of Homeland Security, a move that mirrors actions taken past year to help the Trump administration build sections of the wall along the U.S. -Mexico border.

The Trump administration has built almost 100 miles (160 km) of border wall, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics current to late December.

New construction of 177 miles of new border wall will occur near San Diego and El Centro, California; Yuma and Tucson, Arizona; and El Paso and Del Rio, Texas.

In addition, funding will be diverted from programs to update Humvees and trucks for the Army, buy $1.3 billion in "miscellaneous" new equipment for the National Guard and Reserves and develop certain U.S. Navy vessels.

"The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the power of the purse".

In the case of the F-35, for instance, the Pentagon said "current funding is more than sufficient to keep the current production line open and meet requirements". Last year, the Pentagon reprogrammed more than $6 billion from military construction and drug interdiction funds, but none of that money had been appropriated specifically for combat equipment. And he has used various transfer and emergency authorities to shift nearly $7 billion more from the emergency declaration, a forfeiture fund containing money seized by law enforcement, and funding for military counter-drug activities.

The request (pdf), divided into two parts, seeks $2.2 billion to be diverted from defense appropriations, and $1.63 billion from the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations fund.

Last year, he sought to take money from military housing and base construction.

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"It's grossly irresponsible of President Trump to raid money that is necessary to support and defend our nation for his vanity wall", Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., the chairman of the committee's subpanel on readiness, said in a prepared statement Thursday.

Rep. Mack Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the committee, said Congress has the constitutional authority to determine how defense dollars are spent and "the re-programming today is contrary to Congress's constitutional authority".

Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesman, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the transfer after receiving the request from the Department of Homeland Security last month.

Some details: The money will be moved from procurement accounts to the drug interdiction accounts the Pentagon tapped past year for border projects. This money also includes $650 million for Landing Helicopter Assault ship funding and two C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft. The move, which affected numerous projects in Republican districts and states, triggered outrage on Capitol Hill.

Trump's action comes less than two months after he signed a huge appropriations package into law. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that the cuts represent another broken promise Trump has made to service members. That budget contains a $2 billion request for the wall, less than Trump asked for previous year, which reflects the fact that Trump has more money for the wall than can be spent immediately.

"The Trump Administration claims that every military decision they make is in support of the National Defense Strategy".

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