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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 TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE’s southern border wall.

In a letter sent Thursday, the lawmakers asked acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanOvernight Defense: National Guard boosts DC presence ahead of inauguration | Lawmakers demand probes into troops' role in Capitol riot | Financial disclosures released for Biden Pentagon nominee Biden Pentagon pick could make up to .7M from leaving Raytheon Lloyd Austin can lead — as a civilian MORE for 25 different types of documents related to the use of Pentagon military construction and counter-drug funds to construct the wall. 

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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.

“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: Capitol Police may ask National Guard to stay | Biden's Pentagon policy nominee faces criticism | Naval Academy midshipmen moved to hotels High alert as new QAnon date approaches Thursday Overnight Defense: Tim Kaine moves to claw back war powers authority | Study on sexual harassment and assault in the military MORE (D-Wash.), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyTrump seeks to freeze .4 billion of programs in final week of presidency This week: Trump's grip on Hill allies faces test Trump signs .3T relief, spending package 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 SchultzDeSantis threatens to divert vaccines from communities criticizing distribution Lobbying world Democrats urge Biden FDA to drop in-person rule for abortion pill MORE (D-Fla.) and House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee Chairman John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiBiden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure Colorado presses Biden to reverse Trump Space Command move Report on military aviation crashes faults lack of training, 'chronic fatigue' 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.

“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.”