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Diversion of funds to border wall is yet another abuse of power by the president

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The old adage goes, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

In America, we grant great powers to the executive. For instance, the power to pardon – literally wipe away a conviction and any future prosecution for a crime one has committed. While the president is unlimited in the use of this power, most would argue that a president using the power of the pardon to protect a family member from being prosecuted for a serious crime would be an abuse of that power.

Similarly, while the judicial branch has thus far upheld Donald Trump’s absolute power to declare a national emergency, in order to redirect congressionally budgeted funds, he has abused that power. It is a severe abuse for him to use a law meant for catastrophic emergencies like nuclear attacks, to declare border crossings (many of them legal) to be a national emergency that requires a reprogramming of funds to pay for his wall.

What’s worse, where Trump is taking these funds from makes America less safe, and puts us in greater danger of having a real national emergency.

After taking $3.6 billion in military construction funds last year, according to reports, he is planning on taking another $3.7 billion, this year. What do those funds pay for? They would have gone towards replacing elementary schools for children of the troops, better ambulatory care for families on base, upgraded fire stations, and day care. Wiped out were over $80 million in funds for North Carolina bases, $30 million in Arizona, nearly $11 million in South Carolina, $17 million in Florida, $8 million in Wisconsin, and billions more elsewhere.

When troops are deployed, they need to have their full attention on the mission at hand. Whether it is battling the Taliban in Afghanistan, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, or manning any of the hundreds of embassies around the world (one of which recently came under attack), if our troops are worried about whether their kid is in a crumbling school, or whether their spouses are well protected in case of emergency, they aren’t focused at the mission at hand. The funds that Congress appropriated for our military families not only kept our promise to our troops and military families, it arguably made us safer, because it helped put our troops’ minds at ease.

Donald Trump taking those funds is far-reaching into the future, as well. These projects take years to approve and get underway. Yanking funds from them, now, will impact our military families for years to come. It may be a long time until construction on these projects is finished. By that time, new problems may emerge that need more funding. Trump is mortgaging the future, to pay for a wall that Americans still do not want.

This abuse of power goes hand in hand with all the other abuses of power that Donald Trump has engaged in. Whether it was withholding military aid or killing Qassem Soleimani without congressional approval, Donald Trump may have the power to do certain things. But when they’re done, to pressure foreign interference into our 2020 election, or to retaliate against a sovereign country, when no threat is imminent, they’re abuses.

Donald Trump perverting a law meant to be invoked only in times of true national disaster won’t get him impeached. But that doesn’t make it ok, and does not mean voters should allow it. In 2020, voters have an opportunity to replace Trump, as well as all those who stood silently, while he wielded the recklessly wielded the power granted to him. For America’s security, Constitution, and our great military families, they should take it.

Will Goodwin is director of government relations at VoteVets.

Tags border wall funding Donald Trump

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