The anger of Republicans in Congress is reaching a boiling point at Donald Trump‘s plans to improperly divert billions of dollars from money that was earmarked by Congress for the military to build his border wall. Trump intends to divert the money using the authority of his questionable national emergency declaration.
Trump and his administration lackeys are trying to pull together nearly $8 billion for the U.S.-Mexico border wall. Their plan is to “redirect” $3.6 billion originally appropriated for critical military construction projects throughout the United States.
The president’s misguided decision to declare an emergency and take military funds to build a wall has sparked intense backlash from members of Congress in both parties. Conservative Republicans are rightly concerned that Trump is blurring the constitutional separation of powers while attempting to supersede Congress’s government funding decisions.
GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters to “keep in mind the irony” of the president deciding to take money away from military construction projects that were part of his previous budget requests.
“We had military leaders come before us and make the case for each of these projects as being vital to our national security and it seems to me very shortsighted and harmful to our national security … for that money to be used for other purposes,” Collins said.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), during a floor speech, also urged Trump to rethink his emergency declaration and reshuffle more money from the Pentagon’s counter-drug accounts rather than military construction.
“Using funds already approved by Congress avoids taking money from military construction projects specifically approved by Congress for such activities as military barracks and hospitals,” Alexander said.
Senators don’t know where Trump will shuffle money from or if projects in their home states will be put on hold. This is an important question for politicians who want to be seen as providing for their constituents.
The Senate will vote on a resolution later this month to block Trump’s emergency declaration.
Trump has threatened to veto any resolution that finds its way to his desk, which would create a conflict between the him and members of his own party.
“I think it’s clear that people want to see the final documentation and they want to know the specific statutory basis,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), who is expected to back Trump.
Republicans raised concerns about tapping military construction accounts, as well as the administration’s broader legal strategy, during a closed-door lunch with Vice President Pence and DOJ officials this week.
“That was the sentiment generally expressed. That we want to see what it’s coming out of,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), asked if Republicans need to see details on the military construction funding before the Senate votes.
Pentagon officials have not told Congress what projects they expect will be affected by Trump‘s move. McMahon added that they were still waiting to hear from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about how they plan to spend the military’s funding.
The Defense Department is currently identifying what military construction money might be moved, and what construction jobs under way might be delayed.