Trump to Divert Additional $7.2 Billion in Pentagon Funds for Border Wall

Trump to Divert Additional $7.2 Billion in Pentagon Funds for Border Wall”

In September, CNN reported that the Trump administration was discussing diverting more money from the Pentagon budget to constructing the border wall, a USA official familiar with funding of the project told CNN at the time. "Declaring a national emergency to build the border wall is unnecessary, sets a unsafe precedent and is inconsistent with the U.S. Constitution", Senator Alexander said.

The Washington Post, citing internal planning figures, reported that President Donald Trump was preparing to divert an additional $7.2 billion from the Pentagon's military construction and counter-narcotics funds to border wall construction.

The White House asked Congress for $5 billion for 2020 border barrier construction, and Trump's demand led to the 35-day government shutdown a year ago. According to the plans, the funding would give the government enough money to complete about 885 miles of new fencing by Spring 2022, far more than the 509 miles the administration has slated for the US border with Mexico.

CNN has reached out to the White House and Defense Department for comment.

A federal district court in El Paso, Texas, ruled last month that the White House broke the law when it commandeered funds for the border wall that had been authorized by Congress for another objective. That means the Pentagon would have to find money elsewhere in its budget for the remaining $2.45 billion.

For those projects to go forward, Congress would again have to appropriate funding for them. More than $6 billion was already diverted from those accounts for the border wall in 2019.

The border wall is one of Trump's signature issues - he's been talking about building a "big handsome wall" between the USA and Mexico since his early campaign days. The Constitution gives the power of the purse - or the authority to fund the government's initiatives and operations - exclusively to Congress.

As CQ defense policy reporter Andrew Clevenger notes, the Pentagon projects that have seen their funding halted or delayed have disproportionately been in Democratic regions - and that's likely to be the case again this year. Among the defunded projects were a new middle school on a base in Kentucky and repairs to a risky U.S. Navy maintenance building in Virginia. More than $700 million was taken from projects the Pentagon agreed to fund in allied nations to help shore up defenses against Russian Federation after Moscow's annexation of Crimea from neighboring Ukraine in 2014.

Just last week, after hitting the 100th mile of wall built during Trump's presidency, most of it replacing preexisting border barriers, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf insisted that 450 miles of wall will be built by the end of 2020.

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