House rejects GOP motion on replacing Pentagon funding used on border wall

House rejects GOP motion on replacing Pentagon funding used on border wall

The House on Tuesday rejected a Republican motion on replacing military construction funding President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE is dipping into for his border wall as the chamber moved to officially start negotiations with the Senate on the annual defense policy bill.

The House voted 198-219, largely along party lines, against a Republican “motion to instruct” negotiators to support backfilling $3.6 billion in military construction funds. The vote followed the House agreeing by unanimous consent to start negotiations with the Senate on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

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The minority party typically offers motions to instruct in an attempt to message.

Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryDemocrats express confidence in case as impeachment speeds forward Meadows says Republican colleagues 'wrong' for suggesting Trump's phone call was inappropriate Overnight Defense — Presented by Boeing — Pentagon watchdog says Syria withdrawal hurt ISIS fight | Vindman testifies on third day of public hearings | Lawmakers to wrap up defense bill talks this week MORE (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, argued the motion would “ensure that, as we continue to argue about border security and a whole variety of other issues, that our troops do not suffer as a result of that argument.”

Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced it was taking $3.6 billion from 127 military construction projects to build 175 miles of wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, in line with Trump’s emergency declaration at the beginning of the year.

The Senate’s version of the NDAA includes $3.6 billion to backfill what’s being used for the wall, but the House’s does not.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithWhite House, Congress near deal to give 12 weeks paid parental leave to all federal workers Overnight Energy: Pelosi vows bold action to counter 'existential' climate threat | Trump jokes new light bulbs don't make him look as good | 'Forever chemicals' measure pulled from defense bill Overnight Defense: Suspect in Pensacola shooting identified as Saudi aviation student | Trump speaks with Saudi king after shooting | Esper denies considering 14K deployment to Mideast MORE (D-Wash.) called the Republican motion “irrelevant” since the projects losing money are already authorized for five years.

“What this amounts to is a sense of Congress on whether or not we ought to allow a president to effectively steal $3.6 billion out of the Pentagon’s budget for his own personal policy desire that Congress has already said they shouldn’t,” he said.

While Tuesday’s votes were the first official movement toward House-Senate negotiations on the NDAA, lawmakers and staffers have been unofficially meeting since both chambers passed their bills earlier this summer.

The so-called “Big Four” — Smith, Thornberry, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East Pentagon official: 'Possible' more US troops could be deployed to Middle East MORE (R-Okla.) and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Top Armed Services Democrat scolds military leaders on Trump's intervention in war crimes cases MORE (D-R.I.) — also met Tuesday with Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperSunday shows — Nadler: A jury would convict Trump in 'three minutes flat' Florida Republican says Pensacola shooting 'has to inform on our ongoing relationship with Saudi Arabia' Pentagon chief says he's ordered review of foreign nationals exchange programs after Pensacola shooting MORE.

“We discussed progress made along the priorities laid out in the National Defense Strategy, our current operational environment & commitment to continue working together on the FY20 NDAA,” Esper tweeted Tuesday. 

In addition to border wall issues, the House and Senate will have to find compromises on a number of thorny issues, including House-passed provisions to block military action against Iran, end U.S. military support to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen, reverse Trump’s transgender military ban and ban Pentagon funds from being used at Trump-owned properties.