In another effort to fund his campaign promise of a Mexican financed border wall, President Donald Trump's newly appointed Secretary of Defense Mark Esper pulled funds from the Pentagon's construction budget. Federal budget law restricts the movement of appropriated funds within a federal agency and from one agency to another without congressional approval.
However, by declaring a national emergency, President Trump's DoD Secretary can raid military construction projects without asking Congress to approve the budget transfer. $3.6 billion of military construction projects are on the chopping block.
READ: Defense Secretary Mark Esper has sent Congress a letter outlining plans to complete 11 border wall projects u… https://t.co/UJsAEM5N3f— NPR (@NPR) 1567615896.0
News: Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized $3.6 billion in military construction funds for 11 wall projects… https://t.co/k1SMf2CM0w— Zachary Cohen (@Zachary Cohen) 1567546067.0
@ZcohenCNN But I thought 🇲🇽....— CanonChick (@CanonChick) 1567566517.0
The projects being defunded include repairs to hurricane-damaged military installations in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, repairs to schools for military dependents, upgrades to heating and cooling systems, practice ranges and security upgrades. The projects cover 23 U.S. states, three U.S. territories and 20 countries.
@ZcohenCNN Say goodbye to getting this year's AND last year's hurricane damage fixed on military bases.— Kalaninut🌺🌴 #Filthymouthedwife (@Kalaninut🌺🌴 #Filthymouthedwife) 1567557585.0
The decision means the Pentagon can pull funding from as many as 127 planned construction projects that had been ap… https://t.co/yC619o9jIX— Stars and Stripes (@Stars and Stripes) 1567591960.0
The DoD announcement refers to the projects as deferred, but unless Congress approves adding another $3.6 billion to backfill the Pentagon budget, the projects are effectively canceled, and members of Congress are making their grievances known.
Today Defense Secretary Mark Esper notified me that the Department of Defense will reprogram $3.6 billion in funds… https://t.co/mruURwR8CC— Chuck Schumer (@Chuck Schumer) 1567547502.0
@realDonaldTrump It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that… https://t.co/6MMFrPPUTX— Chuck Schumer (@Chuck Schumer) 1567547574.0
Canceling military construction projects to pay for a wasteful border wall is yet another example of… https://t.co/v1RtcUwpWN— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@Rep. Eric Swalwell) 1567605028.0
.@POTUS’ plan to take $125 mil AWAY from military construction in NM and put it into his hateful border wall is out… https://t.co/mBlbgRPi4A— Tom Udall (@Tom Udall) 1567630987.0
Stealing funds from real national security priorities with the singular goal of fulfilling a xenophobic campaign pr… https://t.co/Fim0jFxBuZ— Joaquin Castro (@Joaquin Castro) 1567634493.0
Our military uses hazmat warehouses to safely store dangerous materials, including hazardous chemicals. Trump is ta… https://t.co/Wm0gr2cqSO— Tim Kaine (@Tim Kaine) 1567627389.0
This snatch & grab heist by Donald Trump is unacceptable. Somehow he's gone from "Mexico will pay for the wall," to… https://t.co/4xXNLjjj0Y— Senator Jeff Merkley (@Senator Jeff Merkley) 1567608705.0
This undermines Congress’ constitutional duties and is an insult to our service members. Trump’s border wall isn’t… https://t.co/w7mArfCmNM— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren) 1567627053.0
Congress has the power of the purse – not the president. We refused to pay for his unnecessary border wall, so now… https://t.co/NvmWD8Rcp3— Rep. Barbara Lee (@Rep. Barbara Lee) 1567552922.0
The President’s decision to fund a border wall by diverting more than $77 million from military projects here in Vi… https://t.co/btO2zJz0oM— Mark Warner (@Mark Warner) 1567629299.0
In 2015, Joint Base Langley-Eustis was selected for an Air Force cyber operations squadron, investing in an industr… https://t.co/crC4uksf5M— Tim Kaine (@Tim Kaine) 1567628675.0
Congress was not alone in their outrage.
First, Mexico was paying for the Wall. Then, @realDonaldTrump shut down the government in a failed attempt to make… https://t.co/7Wnj36RBjI— Gov. Bill Weld (@Gov. Bill Weld) 1567625714.0
@SenSchumer @JackiMGittos @realDonaldTrump Those funds were appropriated bY CONGRESS for the sole purpose of the M… https://t.co/hbX4B4EipI— Tom Rowe (@Tom Rowe) 1567554938.0
@ZcohenCNN What another disaster from this administration. https://t.co/cMi8DHuRDW— hellno kitty (@hellno kitty) 1567558415.0
@ZcohenCNN The wall was supposed to be an election talking point that Mexico was going to pay for. Now we are willi… https://t.co/gw2KjfCRom— Lovina Box (@Lovina Box) 1567567603.0
Defense Secretary Esper diverted the military funding using 10 USC Section 2808. During a national emergency requiring the armed forces, the Defense Secretary can pull military construction funds for "projects necessary to support those troops." By declaring the national emergency then deploying troops, Trump opened the door for his Defense Secretary to raid the Pentagon budget.
Esper—who was one of three men who served as acting Secretary for 202 days after James Mattis resigned over disagreements with the Trump administration—deemed Trump's border wall was "necessary to support the troops" Trump deployed to the border.
In addition to the $3.6 billion being siphoned from military construction projects, Trump is also taking $2.5 billion from the Pentagon budget citing a drug intervention law—10 USC 284. What military projects those diverted funds will kill was not part of the Pentagon briefing.
Here’s the list of $3.6 billion in MILCON projects slated to be shelved for border wall funding. https://t.co/xlqZTrwLFi— Claudia Grisales (@Claudia Grisales) 1567627187.0
Democrats, government ethics watchdogs and some Republicans criticized Trump's manipulation of circumstances to activate laws intended for real emergencies to bypass the constitutional separation of powers and checks and balances.
@ZcohenCNN This is a slush fund for Trump & his campaign donors. Republicans better prepare for the next Democrat P… https://t.co/BtOhXanewg— Joemomma (@Joemomma) 1567560606.0
Under the Constitution, Congress controls appropriated fund allocations. Even conservative critics state Trump's actions open up the possibility for all future Presidents to use emergency declarations and military deployment to fund anything not approved by Congress.
Congress is currently in recess. The Senate and House return on Monday, September 9.
Whether they address the Defense Secretary's diversion of funds remains to be seen.
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