Dem vows to press ban on Pentagon paying for border wall

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A Democratic lawmaker vowed Wednesday to reintroduce an amendment that would block Pentagon funding from being used for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border after reports President Trump has floated using defense dollars to pay for it.

“We can’t allow Donald Trump to steal already-limited resources from our troops to fund a pointless border wall that will serve little other purpose than to satisfy his own fragile ego,” Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said in a statement Wednesday. “This money is meant to help our men and women in uniform — not to fulfill ill-advised campaign promises.”

“Last year, I introduced an amendment that would have prevented Trump from irresponsibly siphoning our defense funds to pay for a useless wall that will do nothing to keep our nation safe. I plan to reintroduce that amendment this spring when the House Armed Services Committee marks up this year’s defense spending bill.”

{mosads}On Tuesday, several reports, led by The Washington Post, said that Trump floated the idea of using some of the $700 billion in defense spending approved last week to help fund the wall he repeatedly promised to build during the presidential campaign.

The omnibus spending bill, which Trump threatened to veto hours before a potential government shutdown, only included $1.6 billion for border fencing, not the $25 billion for the wall Trump was seeking.

Reprogramming federal dollars requires congressional approval, and it’s unlikely lawmakers will want to divert Pentagon money that is meant to fix what officials and lawmakers have described as an urgent preparedness crisis responsible for several recent fatal accidents.

“As a Marine Corps veteran who fought in Iraq, I saw firsthand the devastation and loss of life that results when our troops are not given the proper equipment to protect themselves and fight our enemies,” Gallego said Wednesday. “I’ve also met military families who rely on government-funded services to provide for their families as they scrape to get by.”

Gallego’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year was seen as largely symbolic since there had been no proposal to use Pentagon funding for the wall. But Gallego argued it was needed as a pre-emptive measure since Trump could look to Defense Department coffers when he had trouble getting Mexico to pay for the wall, as he promised.

The committee ultimately approved similar language introduced by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) after the committee’s chairman argued it shouldn’t waste time debating issues the NDAA does not address.

But before the bill made it to the House floor, the Republican leadership-aligned House Rules Committee stripped the amendment, arguing the NDAA has nothing to do with the border wall.

In his statement Wednesday, Gallego said he hopes Republicans will not use the same tactics against his amendment this year.

“I hope that Speaker [Paul] Ryan [R-Wis.] will have the backbone to allow an up-or-down vote on the House floor,” he said, “and that my GOP colleagues will have the courage and integrity to put our military families first and say no to Donald Trump.” 

Tags Donald Trump Ruben Gallego
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