The Trump administration has a plan to divert $3.6 billion from military fund construction projects to build the Mexican border wall, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper approving the use of the funding on Sept. 3. The plan is not without strong opposition from House members and others though.
According to a report from Politico, “Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday to detail the cash grab, explaining that about half of the funding will come from military construction projects outside the United States and half will come from projects within the country.”
The money is being diverted from 127 military projects and will be used to construct 175 miles of wall along the U.S. Mexican border. “In short, these barriers will allow DOD to provide support to DHS more efficiently and effectively,” Esper explained in a letter to Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). “In this respect, the contemplated construction projects are force multipliers.”
The latest development comes on top of the Supreme Court decision in July, when the Trump administration was given the go-ahead to use $2.5 billion of military funding to help build the wall. A group of Democratic senators sent a letter to Esper on Tuesday demanding more details. “We are opposed to this decision and the damage it will cause to our military and the relationship between Congress and the Department of Defense,” the senators wrote. “We also expect a full justification of how the decision to cancel was made for each project selected and why a border wall is more important to our national security and the well-being of our service members and their families than these projects.”
Congress will now be faced with the dilemma of whether to replace the funding to the Defense Department that is to be used for the wall, after earlier in the year refusing to allow the $6 billion the Trump administration was seeking, and Congress is not making any promises on this. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will file a motion to block the transfer of money. “The fact that the government sat on these so-called ‘emergency funds’ for seven months further confirms that this is nothing but an unlawful power grab. We’ll be back in court very soon to block Trump’s latest effort to raid military funds for his xenophobic wall,” Dror Ladin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a statement.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) said the president “is about to weaken our national security by stealing billions from our military.” Wasserman Schultz oversees the House funding for military construction, is prepared to fight the proposal, “I reminded his Admin today that I will not support this theft from our military,” Wasserman Schultz wrote on Twitter. “Trump can pander to his nativist base, but the House will fight his every attempt to make our military families or national security suffer as a result.”