Sunday, 27 September, 2020

Trump Administration Diverts $3.8 Billion In Pentagon Funding To Border Wall

A protestor against the wall on the US-Mexico frontier hangs a banner reading Trump administration taking $3.8 billion more from military for Mexico border wall - International - World
Deanna Wagner | 14 February, 2020, 16:33

The Trump administration is transferring $3.8 billion in recently passed military funding to finance construction of the president's long-sought U.S. -Mexico border wall, angering not just Democrats but also GOP defense hawks.

"President Trump is once again disrespecting the separation of powers and endangering our security by raiding military resources to pay for his wasteful border wall", Democratic Representatives Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, and Pete Visclosky, chairman of the Defence Appropriations subcommittee, said in a statement.

The president declared a national emergency past year to be able to draw federal budget funds already allocated to other needs for the wall, which aims to deter migrants from entering the country illegally.

The Pentagon informed Congress on Thursday of its plans to divert the $3.8 billion from the purchase of aircraft and other equipment and instead use the funds for the construction of border barriers.

The Pentagon request also strips $156 million in additional funds for the F-35, $180 million for an Air Force light attack aircraft, $650 million for amphibious assault ships and almost $300 million for Army vehicles.

According to Customs and Border Protection, since 2017, the Trump administration has secured $11.1 billion in funding for border wall construction that will be used for about 570 miles of wall construction.

The figure stood at fewer than 37,000 last month, from more than 58,000 a year earlier.

"In response, the Secretary of Defense authorized support of $3.8B to build approximately 177 miles of fencing that will help to protect our borders", Mitchell explained. It also cuts funding for eight Reaper drones, four Air Force C-130 transport aircraft, two Marine V-22 Osprey helicopters and also for amphibious ships, National Guard equipment and Army trucks.

China reports 5090 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, 121 new deaths
Japan now has 252 confirmed cases, including 218 from a cruise ship that has been quarantined in Yokohama. Hong Kong and the Philippines have each reported one.

The maneuver, announced in "reprogramming" documents provided to lawmakers, came in for harsh criticism by Rep. Mack Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the transfer of the money from Defense Department operations and maintenance funds to its own counter-drug fund to be used to build 30-foot, bollard-style barriers on federally controlled land along the Mexico border with California, Arizona and Texas. Richard Shelby, the Republican chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Salesses said that the Pentagon could not meet all of Homeland Security's request because of the terrain in some of the border areas and other factors like the "ability to execute the construction within the time frame that the funding's allocated would not be met this year".

In response to the news, several congressional members on Capitol Hill are decrying the move as unconstitutional and risky.

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee called the wall a "vanity" project.

The Trump administration is making the moves without approval from Congress, which under the U.S. Constitution is given the power to appropriate federal funds. This year, by targeting spending for weapons, his proposal drew even more opposition in Congress, from lawmakers in both parties who guard such defense contracts for their job-creation benefits as much as for national security.

On Monday the White House released its budget request for 2021 that included $2 billion in border wall funds, far less than what Trump is planning to take from defense funding.