It was announced Monday night by the Pentagon that it will be transferring $1 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers to build barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border. The move immediately brought an outcry from from Democratic lawmakers who have refused to appropriate money for the wall.
The Pentagon justified the movement of money under Trump’s bogus declaration of a national emergency at the southern border. The shift in funds will make possible the construction of 57 miles of what is called “pedestrian fencing.” It will also allow for road construction and installation of new lighting along a few stretches of the border in both Arizona and Texas.
Ten Democratic U.S. Senators, including Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, voiced their objections to the move by the Pentagon. They wrote a letter saying that the military brass were supposed to seek approval of congressional defense committees before transferring money, but they did not do so.
The letter said:
“As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military.”
“The $1 billion reprogramming that the Department is implementing without congressional approval constitutes a dollar-for-dollar theft from other readiness needs of our Armed Forces.”
The letter was addressed to acting secretary of defense Patrick M. Shanahan and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
The new conflict between the Pentagon and Congress has highlighted the continuing tensions between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats.
The administration has pledged to try to make good on Trump’s campaign promise of a border wall, and the latest movement of money is an attempt to make that happen.
Trump is using the emergency declaration to spend more on border barrier funding than Congress has authorized.
The Pentagon said that the $1 billion that was transferred will help “block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of Federal law enforcement agencies.”