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 TrumpSanders apologizes to Biden for supporter's op-ed Jayapal: 'We will end up with another Trump' if the US doesn't elect progressive Democrats: McConnell impeachment trial rules a 'cover up,' 'national disgrace' 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 ThornberryLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown GOP senator on Trump soliciting foreign interference: 'Those are just statements' Republicans eye top spot on Natural Resources panel 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 SmithLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall House Armed Services chairman exploring options to stop Trump from taking .2B in DOD funds for wall 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 InhofeLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Senators take oath for impeachment trial Trump, Democrats set for brawl on Iran war powers MORE (R-Okla.) and Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedOvernight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change MORE (D-R.I.) — also met Tuesday with Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperLawmakers push back at Pentagon's possible Africa drawdown Overnight Defense: Book says Trump called military leaders 'dopes and babies' | House reinvites Pompeo for Iran hearing | Dems urge Esper to reject border wall funding request Senate Dems urge Esper to oppose shifting Pentagon money to border wall 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.