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

Senate Democrats are trying to prevent President Trump from being able to redirect Defense Department funding to construction of his border wall.

Democrats filed an amendment, spearheaded by Sen. Dick Durbin (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.

{mosads}The amendment is supported by Democratic Sens. Tom Udall (N.M.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jon Tester (Mont.) and Chris Murphy (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.
Tags Border wall Brian Schatz Chris Murphy Dick Durbin Donald Trump Jon Tester National Defense Authorization Act National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 National Emergency declaration Patrick Leahy Tom Udall

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