Democrats introduce bill to reverse Trump's shift of military money toward wall

Democrats introduce bill to reverse Trump's shift of military money toward wall
© Greg Nash

Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced legislation to reverse President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump fires intelligence community inspector general who flagged Ukraine whistleblower complaint Trump organization has laid off over 1000 employees due to pandemic: report Trump invokes Defense Production Act to prevent export of surgical masks, gloves MORE's decision to shift billions in military funding toward the U.S.-Mexico border wall and place new limitations on the Pentagon's transfer authority.

The bill would restore the $3.8 billion the Pentagon announced earlier this month that it would shift from various weapons programs to help build about 177 miles of border fencing back to the military accounts.

The bill would also cut the amount of money the Pentagon would have the ability to transfer going forward, in an attempt to prevent the administration from leveraging military funding in the future.

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According to the text of the legislation, it would cut the Pentagon's general transfer authority from $ 4 billion to $1.798 billion. It would also limit the amount of money that could be transferred from a war fund from $2 billion to $371 million.

"This latest reprogramming was not just an attack on Congress’ power of the purse, it was an attack on military readiness. The Senate should reject the President’s money grab and reassert our Constitutionally-granted powers by supporting this legislation," Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinDemocrats ask EPA, Interior to pause rulemaking amid coronavirus Senator Tom Coburn's government oversight legacy Democratic lawmakers demand government stop deporting unaccompanied children MORE (D-Ill.) said in a statement.

Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyJustice IG pours fuel on looming fight over FISA court Democratic senators ask Pompeo to provide coronavirus aid to Palestinian territories Mnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus MORE (Vt.), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee, added that the bill would "help to restore the Constitutional power of the purse back to Congress and provide Senate Republicans an opportunity to give action to their repeatedly voiced concerns.”

In addition to Durbin and Leahy, 30 additional Senate Democrats are supporting the bill, including Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Stimulus bill has .5B for Pentagon | Money would be blocked from border wall | Esper orders 60-day freeze for overseas troop movements Senate panel switches to 'paper hearings' amid coronavirus pandemic Rand Paul's coronavirus diagnosis sends shockwaves through Senate MORE (R.I.), the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee.

Trump's decision to raid the military accounts to help build the border wall has sparked bipartisan frustration in Congress. 

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House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with outbreak | Trump to expand use of defense law to build ventilators | Hospital ships receiving few patients Aircraft carrier captain removed from duty after pleading for help with coronavirus outbreak Top Armed Services Republican unveils proposals on military families, acquisition reform MORE (D-Wash.) and Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryTop Armed Services Republican unveils proposals on military families, acquisition reform House panel delays consideration of annual defense policy bill Congressionally created commission recommends requiring that women register for draft MORE (Texas), the top Republican on the committee, rejected the transfer request in a letter this week, though the administration has argued that it doesn't need Congress to sign off. The pair also warned that the Department is "at risk to lose the flexibility Congress has historically granted to effectively manage the resources provided."

Trump also previously declared a national emergency to shift $3.6 billion to the border wall.

Congress has tried twice to end the national emergency but does not have the two-thirds necessary to override a veto.

Democrats are able to force a vote on the national emergency declaration every six months. With the last vote taking place in September, that means they'll be able to force a vote again in mid-March.