House Dems demand Pentagon provide details about plans to fund Trump border wall

House Dems demand Pentagon provide details about plans to fund Trump border wall
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Five Democratic leaders of House Armed Services and Appropriations committees are demanding more details from the Defense Department about its plans to steer funds to help build President TrumpDonald John TrumpChasten Buttigieg: 'I've been dealing with the likes of Rush Limbaugh my entire life' Lawmakers paint different pictures of Trump's 'opportunity zone' program We must not turn our heads from the effects of traumatic brain injuries MORE’s southern border wall.

In a letter sent Thursday, the lawmakers asked 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 for 25 different types of documents related to the use of Pentagon military construction and counter-drug funds to construct the wall. 

The Pentagon is planning to steer the money after Trump declared a national emergency last month, as he seeks to bypass Congress and use roughly $8 billion to build barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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“While the President has issued a national emergency proclamation, our committees are still responsible for performing their constitutional oversight responsibilities,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers asked for the documents and information by March 14 “given the speed with which we believe the Department of Defense may be acting in response to the emergency proclamation.”

The letter was signed by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Dem senator met with Iranian foreign minister | Meeting draws criticism from right | Lawmakers push back at Pentagon funding for wall Lawmakers push back at Trump's Pentagon funding grab for wall Top Armed Services Republican: Pentagon using .8B on border wall 'requires Congress to take action' MORE (D-Wash.), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Roger Stone gets over three years in prison; Brutal night for Bloomberg Three members of Congress endorse Bloomberg after raucous debate 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' MORE (D-N.Y.), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzHarris, Castro introduce resolution condemning Trump aide Stephen Miller Iowa debacle deepens division between Sanders, national party US officials, world leaders arrive in Israel for World Holocaust Forum  MORE (D-Fla.) and House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee Chairman John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiPeace Corps' sudden decision to leave China stirs blowback LA Mayor Eric Garcetti endorses Biden Impeachment battle lines harden ahead of pivotal week MORE (D-Calif.).

The Trump administration plans to pull $6.1 billion from Pentagon accounts to help fund a border wall, with $2.5 billion to be taken from counter-drug programs and $3.6 billion from military construction funds.

When declaring the national emergency,  Trump said military leaders supported his idea to repurpose military dollars.

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“Some of the generals think this is more important,” Trump said Feb. 15. “I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for. I said ‘what were you going to use it for?’ And I won’t go into details but [it] didn’t sound too important to me.”

Lawmakers, however, have expressed alarm at the idea of moving the dollars, which they say are necessary for military readiness.

There are also concerns that in taking the military construction funds, military families would be impacted.

The Defense Department is currently grappling with a $116 billion maintenance backlog that has left military families living in unsafe and poor conditions.

The lawmakers also asked Shanahan to inform the congressional defense committees at least 60 days ahead of any Pentagon funds being allocated to or spent on building a border wall or barrier. 

Some lawmakers have also pushed back on the idea of raiding Pentagon accounts, including House Armed Services Committee ranking member Mac Thornberry (R-Texas).

Thornberry said in a statement in February that moving the money “would have detrimental consequences for our troops,” and that he hoped “the President will pursue other options.”