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
© UPI Photo

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 TrumpMueller report findings could be a 'good day' for Trump, Dem senator says Trump officials heading to China for trade talks next week Showdown looms over Mueller report MORE’s southern border wall.

In a letter sent Thursday, the lawmakers asked acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanTrump waiting on watchdog findings for Pentagon head: report Overnight Defense: Trump to reverse North Korea sanctions imposed by Treasury | Move sparks confusion | White House says all ISIS territory in Syria retaken | US-backed forces report heavy fighting | Two US troops killed in Afghanistan White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated MORE for 25 different types of documents related to the use of Pentagon military construction and counter-drug funds to construct the wall. 

ADVERTISEMENT

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 SmithTrump waiting on watchdog findings for Pentagon head: report 737 crisis tests Boeing's clout in Washington Overnight Defense: Pentagon chief under investigation over Boeing ties | Trump uses visual aids to tout progress against ISIS | Pentagon, Amnesty International spar over civilian drone deaths MORE (D-Wash.), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyStop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave Bottom Line Left-wing Dems in minority with new approach to spending 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 SchultzGOP turns Venezuela into Florida attack line Dem lawmakers unveil Journalist Protection Act amid Trump attacks on media Trump's emergency declaration looms over Pentagon funding fight MORE (D-Fla.) and House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee Chairman John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiTrump's emergency declaration looms over Pentagon funding fight House Dems demand Pentagon provide details about plans to fund Trump border wall Dem lawmaker: 'The president has it in for California' 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.”