Trump to transfer $3.8B from military to fund his wall

Elias Hubbard
February 14, 2020

Illegal border crossings have plummeted as the Trump administration has extended a policy to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico for court hearings in the U.S.

In its report on the news, The Hill noted that the money is being repurposed as part of the Pentagon's counter-drug fund.

The Pentagon's move partially meets a DHS request for assistance received in January that asked for $5.5. billion in Defense Department funding to help construct 271 miles of border.

The fund now has between $600 million and $800 million to be used for counter-drug activity.

A year ago the Pentagon cut funding from projects such as schools, target ranges and maintenance facilities across 23 states, 19 countries and three US territories.

"The transfer of the funds will not adversely affect the military preparedness of the United States", he said.

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". For example, the cuts affect an amphibious assault ship built in MS and an Expeditionary Fast Transport ship that's built in Alabama, a state represented by Sen. The Pentagon is transferring money that would have been used for eight MQ-9 Reaper drones, two more C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft, and $1.3 billion in "miscellaneous" National Guard and reserves equipment.

Some members of Congress have already voiced their outrage about the Pentagon's decision to divert money that Congress approved for another objective.

"The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress's constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action", Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.

Another senior member of the House Armed Services Committee said its members would "do everything in our power to push back against this irresponsible and irrational decision by the president".

"Today's reprogramming request confirms once again that the President is obsessed with fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of our national security", Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the panel's Democratic chairman, said in a statement.

The contract, which The Washington Post notes is "meant to create a powerful, centralized computing system for US military agencies", is estimated to be worth up to $10 billion over 10 years, and Microsoft won it last October after Amazon claims Trump used "improper pressure" and after a process Amazon says was full of "unmistakable bias".

The Pentagon notified lawmakers Thursday that it intends to reprogram $3.8 billion in appropriated funds from its 2020 budget, including $2.2 billion from its base budget and $1.6 billion from the overseas contingency operations account.

The plan would pay for a further 177 miles of wall construction by taking the money from Pentagon accounts earmarked to buy fighter aircraft, vehicles, warships and other big-ticket weapons systems, the document showed.

Bob Salesses, the deputy assistant defense secretary, told reporters on Thursday that the funds are meant to help build 30-foot fencing on federally-controlled land in six border areas: San Diego and El Centro, California; Yuma and Tuscon, Arizona, and El Paso and Del Rio, Texas.

The project is expected to be completed in 12 to 24 months, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers overseeing the contracts for building the barrier, Salesses said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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