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

Esper defence funds diverted to border wall legal

Esper defence funds diverted to border wall legal

The Department of Homeland Security "has identified areas along the southern border of the United States that are being used by individuals, groups and transnational criminal organizations as drug smuggling corridors", the Pentagon document said in trying to justify the shift on national security grounds.

Trump ordered active-duty troops, in addition to National Guardsmen, to the southern border in 2018 to reinforce ports of entry and construct physical barriers along the border in response to large migrant caravans trying to enter the United States. He vowed as a candidate that Mexico would pay for the wall, but as president he turned instead to the Pentagon's deep pockets. He alienated lawmakers on both sides past year when diverting funding intended for popular projects on military bases. "President Trump has already raided over $6 billion in critical defense funds to pay for his wall - this new raid worsens the already risky problems he's created for our military and national security".

Amazon is in the middle of a lawsuit against the Defense Department, accusing President Trump of "repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer" the Pentagon's Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract toward Microsoft in order to "harm his perceived political enemy", Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican who is the ranking member of the House committee, did not mention Trump by name but voiced strong opposition to the diverting of money from various Pentagon accounts for border wall construction, asserting the move is "contrary to Congress's constitutional authority". His state is home to Lockheed Martin production facilities for the F-35 fighter. Microsoft in a statement said that "we are disappointed with the additional delay" but that "we believe the facts will show [the Defense Department] ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft".

"Time and again, this President has subverted that constitutional authority and bipartisan majorities of Congress to pay for his vanity wall", Leahy said in a statement, adding "Let us see whether congressional Republicans will brush off this diversion of funds from military programs that they support, or continue the inaction that has led this President to become increasingly brazen".

Lawmakers repeatedly sought to block Trump's attempts to tap Pentagon funds a year ago.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the transfer of the money from Defense Department operations and maintenance funds to its own counter-drug fund to be used to build 30-foot, bollard-style barriers on federally controlled land along the Mexico border with California, Arizona and Texas. It also cuts funding for eight Reaper drones, four Air Force C-130 transport aircraft, two Marine V-22 Osprey helicopters and also for amphibious ships, National Guard equipment and Army trucks.

The Pentagon request also strips $156 million in additional funds for the F-35, $180 million for an Air Force light attack aircraft, $650 million for amphibious assault ships and almost $300 million for Army vehicles. 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 nearly every case, the administration justified the funding shifts by proposing to take funds that Congress had added above the administration's budget requests, calling them Congress' "special interest" items.

"This is a congressional special interest item", said the Pentagon documents, referring to the targets of numerous cuts. Esper approved a portion of that.

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