Home General Trump To Use $3.8 Billion In Military Combat Funds For Border Wall

Trump To Use $3.8 Billion In Military Combat Funds For Border Wall

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The Trump administration plans to tap the Pentagon’s budget and get another $3.8 billion in military funds to pay for border wall construction this year; a move critics blasted as “theft,” a raid and a money grab.

The fund transfers, detailed in Defense Department budget documents uncovered Thursday, would use money that had been budgeted for two F-35 fighters, two C-130J cargo planes, drones, and other equipment. The plan also targets $1.3 billion that was originally allocated for National Guard units from all four branches of the military.

This move comes a year after the White House diverted $3.6 billion from military construction projects to the walls that President Donald Trump famously guaranteed during his 2016 election campaign would be paid for by Mexico.

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Arizona, said in a statement released by her office Thursday that Trump is “now seeking to take money from our National Guard to pay for his vanity wall project.”

“It is alarming to see President Trump raid defense accounts – without having Congressional oversight or approval,” Kirkpatrick’s statement mentioned. “Not only can this action overlook our separation of powers and constitutional system, but it also compromises our national security by taking away valuable resources.”

A Pentagon spokesman stated the Defense Department supports the transfer of funds that will officially be utilized by the Department of Homeland Security for drug interdiction efforts on the border.

“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 setting up lighting to obstruct drug smuggling corridors,” said Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell.

He said the request for funds came from DHS last month, “asking for assistance stopping drug-smuggling corridors on federal land over the southern border.”

In the budget document detailing the transfer, the Pentagon said DHS had listed “vehicle barriers, pedestrian fencing, and new lighting as the necessary equipment to ‘impede and deny drug smuggling activities.'”

The Pentagon justified each of the more than one dozen appropriations slated for transfer, along with an explanation describing the targeted items as excessive, unnecessary, or inconsistent with modernization goals and objectives. Most of the items were also labeled as congressional special interest items.

That drew the ire of National Guard Association of the United States, which said in a sharp letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley that the items being cut are far from “special interest” items.

“We contend that it is instead a special interest item for national security,” said the note from association President J. Roy Robinson and board chairman Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire, who is also the adjutant general of Arizona.

“Reprogramming this congressionally aimed funding will severely undermine the lethality and readiness of National Guard soldiers and airmen,” their letter said. “It could also significantly derail the timetable for safety upgrades and modernization initiatives essential to National Guard weapon systems and equipment.”

Modernization and replacement projects for Humvees and National Guard equipment were among over a dozen appropriations on the chopping block.

Rep. Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo, D-New Mexico, said the administration’s programs position the military in jeopardy. “As someone who grew up in a military family, it extremely concerns to think about the impacts this theft will have on essential projects, equipment, and general military readiness,” Haaland said. “Military families deserve to know their loved ones will be a top priority while serving our country, not secondary to a destructive vanity project.”

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee also criticized what they called administration “theft” from military accounts, and blamed Republican lawmakers for enabling the president.

“The Constitution gives Congress, not the President, the power of the purse,” said the statement from Democratic Reps. Nita Lowey of New York and Pete Visclosky of Indiana. “Congress turned down President Trump’s full request for wall funding, which is why he is now orchestrating this backdoor mechanism to prop up a political vanity project.”

It’s not really the first time Congress and the White House have clashed over the funding.

When Congress in late 2018 declined Trump’s request for $5.7 billion for the wall, the ensuing fund’s standoff brought about a 35-day government shutdown. The shutdown ended when Trump backed away, simply to turn around and declare a national emergency that he said gives him the leeway to shuffle government funds and call on the Pentagon for the money.

That emergency was renewed Thursday by the White House.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, tweeted Thursday that Trump is making American taxpayers pay “to build his xenophobic wall.”

“Trump is stealing from Arizona military funding yet again to bulldoze Southern Arizona habitats and blow up Native American sites,” Grijalva’s tweet said.

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