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 using diverted Pentagon funds.
— NPR (@NPR) September 4, 2019
News: Defense Secretary Mark Esper has authorized $3.6 billion in military construction funds for 11 wall projects on the southern border with Mexico, per defense officials & a letter from Esper to the Senate Armed Services Committee, which was obtained by CNN.
Story to come.
— Zachary Cohen (@ZcohenCNN) September 3, 2019
But I thought 🇲🇽….
— CanonChick (@chick_canon) September 4, 2019
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.
Say goodbye to getting this year’s AND last year’s hurricane damage fixed on military bases.
— Kalaninut🌺🌴 (@Kalaninut) September 4, 2019
The decision means the Pentagon can pull funding from as many as 127 planned construction projects that had been approved by Congress for bases in the U.S. and abroad. https://t.co/S86rJVf16c
— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) September 4, 2019
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 appropriated for military construction projects, including at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in order to build @realDonaldTrump ‘s misguided border wall.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 3, 2019
It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that @realDonaldTrump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego, and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build. https://t.co/sv2ys87bw1
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 3, 2019
Canceling military construction projects to pay for a wasteful border wall is yet another example of @realDonaldTrump putting his own vanity projects before the American people. His disregard for the brave men & women who serve our country is un-American & should infuriate us all
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) September 4, 2019
.@POTUS’ plan to take $125 mil AWAY from military construction in NM and put it into his hateful border wall is outrageous. The projects at Holloman & White Sands are key to training our soldiers and keeping our country safe— so not only is this unconstitutional, it’s dangerous.
— Tom Udall (@SenatorTomUdall) September 4, 2019
Stealing funds from real national security priorities with the singular goal of fulfilling a xenophobic campaign promise is wrong.
The readiness of our military and the strength of our national security does not rest on an ineffective, medieval border wall.
More ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/xAFYFcF86f
— Joaquin Castro (@JoaquinCastrotx) September 4, 2019
Our military uses hazmat warehouses to safely store dangerous materials, including hazardous chemicals. Trump is taking $41 million away from safety improvements for those warehouses in Norfolk and Portsmouth so he can fund his border wall.
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) September 4, 2019
This snatch & grab heist by Donald Trump is unacceptable. Somehow he’s gone from “Mexico will pay for the wall,” to forcing the U.S. military to defer construction projects to pay for his wall. This is nothing more than a vanity project.https://t.co/5fFG4waB90
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) September 4, 2019
This undermines Congress’ constitutional duties and is an insult to our service members. Trump’s border wall isn’t about security—it’s nothing more than a sign of his administration’s hate. https://t.co/q6v36g0Ap2
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) September 4, 2019
Congress has the power of the purse – not the president. We refused to pay for his unnecessary border wall, so now he’s stealing funds already marked for other purposes. This is illegal and an outrageous slap in the face to our men and women in uniform.https://t.co/Z90J4WWsYc
— Rep. Barbara Lee (@RepBarbaraLee) September 3, 2019
The President’s decision to fund a border wall by diverting more than $77 million from military projects here in Virginia, and billions more from other projects around the world, only makes our country less safe. https://t.co/fBTnwF3XxB
— Mark Warner (@MarkWarner) September 4, 2019
In 2015, Joint Base Langley-Eustis was selected for an Air Force cyber operations squadron, investing in an industry that’s critical to our national security. Now, Trump is taking $10 million straight from that cyber facility to build his border wall.
— Tim Kaine (@timkaine) September 4, 2019
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 Congress fund it. They refused. Now, he’s taking the money from our military—costing American jobs and preparedness. Insanity.https://t.co/MMBENuUXAK
— Gov. Bill Weld (@GovBillWeld) September 4, 2019
Those funds were appropriated bY CONGRESS for the sole purpose of the Military.
Your f#cking wall was not part of that appropriation.
Your wall is not a military expence.
Say CONGRESS, when you come in from recess PLEASE ATTEND TO THIS. ASP
— Tom Rowe (@TomRoweDotArt) September 3, 2019
What another disaster from this administration. pic.twitter.com/cMi8DHuRDW
— hellno kitty (@HairHoKitty) September 4, 2019
The wall was supposed to be an election talking point that Mexico was going to pay for. Now we are willing to use money from the Pentagon to build a wall we don’t need. Is this America’s priority now? We are being conned & we’re allowing it. Shame.
— Lovina Box (@lovinabox) September 4, 2019
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. pic.twitter.com/xlqZTrwLFi
— Claudia Grisales (@cgrisales) September 4, 2019
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.
This is a slush fund for Trump & his campaign donors. Republicans better prepare for the next Democrat President, he or she will be declaring a National Emergency for Healthcare & Climate Change, 😅🤣😂! @wolflayla420 @TaggartRehnn @Linda3717 @holachola @AWorldOutOfMind @lilsun83 pic.twitter.com/CxPJ4UKSoU
— Joemomma (@JoeMomma833) September 4, 2019
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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