Pentagon: Trump, Mattis discussed using military dollars for border wall
President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis have spoken about the possibility of using Defense Department funds for a border wall between the United States and Mexico, a Pentagon official confirmed Thursday.
“They have talked about the proposal, potentially,” chief spokeswoman Dana White told reporters. “Securing Americans and securing the nation is of paramount importance to the secretary. They have talked about it. I don’t have any more details with respect to specifics.”
White could not say when the two spoke, and said it was “an initial conversation.”
Trump last week signed the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill into law, providing the Pentagon with $700 billion in fiscal 2018 and $716 billion in fiscal 2019.
The budget also included $1.6 billion for border funding, far below the $25 billion Trump wanted.
It would require congressional approval to reprogram the money, but it looks unlikely lawmakers will want to divert Pentagon money. Mattis has repeatedly stressed that the dollars are meant to fix an urgent readiness crisis.
But Trump on Twitter seemed to suggest that the department could spare some of its billions for a border wall.
“Because of the $700 & $716 Billion Dollars gotten to rebuild our Military, many jobs are created and our Military is again rich,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “Building a great Border Wall, with drugs (poison) and enemy combatants pouring into our Country, is all about National Defense. Build WALL through M!”
When pressed on the possibility of the diverted dollars ultimately hurting the military’s ability to buy needed equipment, White said the suggestion was “a bridge too far.”
“I think that’s a bridge too far because we don’t have those details and, again, it’s been an initial conversation, so I don’t have any more details,” she said.
“The president and the secretary, there’s no daylight between them with respect to ensuring that this military stays the most lethal in the world. There’s no disagreement with them on that issue,” she said.
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