Money that was directed toward fighter planes and ships is to be redirected toward building the southern border wall, the Pentagon informed Congress on Thursday, Feb. 13.
The notice said the $3.8 billion it is needed “to provide support for counter-drug activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).” The funds will take the total redirected from the Pentagon to help the president build the wall to $10 billion.
“DHS has identified areas along the southern border of the United States that are being used by individuals, groups, and transnational criminal organizations as drug smuggling corridors, and determined that the construction of additional physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the United States border is necessary in order to impede and deny drug smuggling activities,” the notice states.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell said on Thursday in a statement, the money will be used to build about 177 miles of new fencing.
“The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to secure the southern border by constructing fences and roads and installing lighting to block drug smuggling corridors,” he said. “We will continue to support DHS and other agencies as needed to keep our homeland secure.”
Democrats were seething at the release of the money calling the project a “vanity project,” and blamed Republicans for allowing the president to have the authority to transfer money when spending legislation was passed in December.
“While some of our Republican colleagues will lament the president’s decision, they enabled this theft by blocking our efforts to stop the president from raiding defense accounts,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) said in a joint statement with Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.)
“Until they stand up to President Trump, our national security will continue to be threatened and our constitutional system of government will continue to be undermined,” they added, reports The Hill.
Congress had on two occasions attempted to overturn the president’s emergency declaration, which enables him to reprogram defense funding toward building the wall, but were unsuccessful in overriding his vetoes.