Democrats aim to block defense money from being used on Trump border wall

Senate Democrats are trying to prevent President TrumpDonald John TrumpComey responds to Trump with Mariah Carey gif: 'Why are you so obsessed with me?' Congress to get election security briefing next month amid Intel drama New York man accused of making death threats against Schumer, Schiff MORE from being able to redirect Defense Department funding to construction of his border wall.

Democrats filed an amendment, spearheaded by Sen. Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinOvernight Energy: EPA to regulate 'forever chemicals' in drinking water | Trump budget calls for slashing funds for climate science centers | House Dems urge banks not to fund drilling in Arctic refuge Democratic senators criticize plan that could expand Arctic oil and gas development Democratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe MORE (D-Ill.), to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prohibit Trump from using national defense funds authorized by the mammoth policy bill toward the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The amendment would also prohibit Trump from using national defense funds authorized between fiscal years 2015 and 2019 as part of the NDAA, an annual measure that outlines broad policy and spending guidelines for the Pentagon.

ADVERTISEMENT

The amendment is supported by Democratic Sens. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallButtigieg expands on climate plan with new proposals Climate change a rising concern for Western voters, poll finds Greenpeace says many plastics are not actually recyclable MORE (N.M.), Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyDemocratic senators ask DOJ watchdog to expand Giuliani probe Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Pentagon transferring .8 billion to border wall MORE (Vt.), Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzBooker, Merkley propose federal facial recognition moratorium Poll: Majority of Democrats say Electoral College delegates should cast ballots based on popular vote Democrats praise Romney for breaking with GOP on convicting Trump MORE (Hawaii), Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterDemocratic senator: 'The ultimate of ironies' for Trump to hit Romney for invoking his faith Committee on Veterans Affairs sends important message during tense Senate time Democrats cry foul over Schiff backlash MORE (Mont.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyKerry responds to Trump accusation he violated Logan Act: 'Another presidential lie' Overnight Health Care: Senate panel to hold hearing on US coronavirus response | Dems demand Trump withdraw religious provider rule | Trump Medicaid proposal sparks bipartisan backlash Democratic senators urge Trump administration to request emergency funding for coronavirus response MORE (Conn.). Leahy is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, while Tester is the ranking member on the panel's Department of Homeland Security subcommittee.

The amendment is one of hundreds that senators have filed to the Senate's version of the NDAA, which lawmakers are expected to start debating this week.

Democrats face an uphill battle getting their amendment to the floor for a vote, given the GOP majority in the chamber.

But the amendment is in line with a similar provision in the House version of the NDAA, which the House Armed Services Committee advanced last week, signaling a fight over Trump using Pentagon funds for the border wall is likely to be a sticking point as both chambers move to reconcile their competing proposals.
 
Trump declared a national emergency in February to allow him to dip into military construction funding to build the wall without congressional approval. So far, the Pentagon has yet to use military construction money on the wall, but it has moved $2.5 billion from various accounts into its counterdrug account to use for the wall.
 
The Senate's NDAA currently includes the administration’s request for $3.6 billion to “back fill” money the White House diverted from the military construction account as part of Trump's national emergency declaration to build part of the U.S.-Mexico border wall. It does not include the administration’s request for an additional $3.6 billion in wall funding.