Top Dem: Trump asking for $377M more for border security

Top Dem: Trump asking for $377M more for border security
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The White House has notified Congress it will request another $377 million for border security, a portion of which will be used to support troops deployed there, a top congressman said Wednesday.

“Last night, Congress was notified that [the Office of Management and Budget] will be submitting a $377 million supplemental request for border security,” said Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense. “A portion of that will be in support of military personnel deployed at the border.”

Visclosky made the comments at a subcommittee hearing on the Pentagon’s fiscal 2020 budget request where acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanEsper's chief of staff to depart at end of January Defense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall MORE, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford and acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist were testifying.

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Later Wednesday, the White House released a $4.5 billion request for emergency funding that included $377 million for the Pentagon.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan told lawmakers Tuesday a supplemental request would be coming, but did not specify its funding level.

The number of border apprehensions and denials of people attempting to enter the U.S. through the southern border spiked to 92,607 in March, up from 66,884 the previous month, according to government figures.

The Trump administration has cast the increase as a crisis and has said the extra funds are needed to help address the emergency.

McAleenan, who took over as acting Department of Homeland Security secretary after Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenHillicon Valley: Twitter falling short on pledge to verify primary candidates | Barr vows to make surveillance reforms after watchdog report | DHS cyber chief focused on 2020 Sen. Kennedy slams acting DHS secretary for lack of coronavirus answers The 'accidental director' on the front line of the fight for election security MORE's resignation earlier this month, said Tuesday the supplemental funds would help pay for temporary and semi-permanent migrant processing facilities where “families and children will receive timely and appropriate medical attention, food, and temporary shelter” before being transported to other facilities.

On Wednesday, Democrats on the House Appropriations defense subpanel panned the use of the military at the border.

“There is no emergency at the border that requires the use of the armed forces,” Visclosky said. “We are here to appropriate funds needed for the military, not to make good on a campaign promise.”

In particular, Democrats are furious President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Biden seeks revival in South Carolina Congress eyes billion to billion to combat coronavirus Sanders makes the case against Biden ahead of SC primary MORE declared a national emergency in February to use military construction funds to build a border wall without congressional approval.

A spending bill released Tuesday by House Democrats would prohibit the use of military construction funds approved since 2015 for the wall.

The U.S. military has also deployed about 3,000 active-duty troops to the border, along with about 2,000 National Guardsmen. Earlier this week, Shanahan approved sending another 320 military personnel with loosened rules of engagement to allow them to interact with migrants.

Asked on Wednesday why the Pentagon is using its resources on the border when there are other military needs, Shanahan told lawmakers, “the simple version is, I have a legal standing order from the commander in chief to deploy resources to support a national emergency.”

But Shanahan also said the Pentagon needs to determine “how long will we be at the border” rather than taking an “a la carte approach.” 

“We’ve initiated a set of actions to really how many people are [Customs and Border Protection] short because we need to get that into a sustained environment,” Shanahan said. “We’re driving buses, we’re serving food, we’re doing medical support, we’re doing logistics support." 

“For now we haven’t degraded any readiness,” Shanahan continued. “But we really need back to our primary missions to continue to generate readiness.”

Updated at 1:11 p.m.