Some $7.2 billion in military construction and defense funds are being diverted to the continued construction of a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico, the Washington Post is reporting.
That funding is coming from a combination of $3.7 billion intended for construction projects on military bases across the country, along with another $3.5 billion originally approved by Congress to be used to combat drug trafficking.
The funds transfers have engendered widespread criticism, with Texas Representative Henry Cuellar charging that the White House decision will “weaken our natural security, hurt the quality of life of our military and their families, and undermine Congress’s constitutional authority in determining spending priorities.”
Although Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby said he wished the White House would “get the money somewhere else, instead of defense” for the border wall work, he emphasized his overall support for the project.
The White House has maintained that the President has the authority to transfer such funds based upon an emergency order he made last year in which he transferred $3.6 billion for military construction projects, along with another $2.5 billion, in anti-narcotic spending.
While Congress last year allocated $1.3 billion for the additional construction of the border wall, it declined to restrict the President’s power to transfer Pentagon funds from one project to another.
To date, notes the New York Times, “the administration has now allocated more than $18 billion for Mr. Trump’s border wall.”
The additional funding means that another 880 miles of new border wall will likely be built in the next two years, on top of the 100 miles recently completed.
By Garry Boulard
Get stories like these right to your inbox.