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 TrumpGiuliani says he is unaware of reported federal investigation Louisiana's Democratic governor forced into runoff Lawmakers focus their ire on NBA, not China MORE’s southern border wall.

In a letter sent Thursday, the lawmakers asked acting Defense Secretary Patrick ShanahanPatrick Michael ShanahanDefense chief calls on European allies to be wary of China's investments, blasts Russia Pentagon chief approves 20 more miles of border wall Why Dave Norquist is the perfect choice for DOD's deputy secretary 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.

“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 SmithTop Democrats warn against withdrawing from treaty that allows observation flights over Russia This year, let's cancel the Nobel Prize in economics Pentagon space agency to request .6 billion over five years: report MORE (D-Wash.), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita LoweyNita Sue LoweyThe Hill's Campaign Report: Impeachment fight to take center stage at Dem debate The Hill's Morning Report — Arrest of Giuliani associates triggers many questions Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions 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 SchultzDeLauro enters race to succeed Lowey as Appropriations chief Democrats walk tightrope in fight over Trump wall funds Parkland father: Twitter did not suspend users who harassed me using name of daughter's killer MORE (D-Fla.) and House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee Chairman John GaramendiJohn Raymond GaramendiTlaib says Democrats have discussed detaining White House officials who don't testify Democratic lawmaker: We should 'march' uncooperative witnesses 'to a little jail' House Democrat breaks from party, says House should vote to start impeachment inquiry 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.”