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

Greg Nash

Senate Democrats on Wednesday introduced legislation to reverse President Trump’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.

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 Durbin (D-Ill.) said in a statement.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (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 Reed (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. 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (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.

Tags Adam Smith Border wall Defense funds Dick Durbin Donald Trump emergency funding Jack Reed Mac Thornberry Patrick Leahy Senate Appropriations Committee
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