Federal Judge Blocks Use Of Defense Department Funds In Building Border Wall
A Federal judge in Texas, David Briones, blocked the Trump administration from utilizing billions of dollars in Pentagon funds for the building of the border wall with Mexico.
Judge Briones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas said Tuesday that the administration cannot appropriate military construction funds to build additional barriers on the U.S. southern border with Mexico.
The ruling has dealt a blow to the Trump administration. The administration has tried to muster money for President Donald Trump’s signature campaign promise of a border wall.
This is another body blow that the judiciary has dealt Trump of late on critical issues, including his immigration policies and refusal to release his tax returns to Congress.
It targets only one set of Pentagon funds, however, leaving in place the money the U.S. Supreme Court allowed to be used earlier this year.
In September, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper authorized diverting of $3.6 billion in military construction funds for 11 wall projects on the southern border with Mexico. The Pentagon said at the time that half the money was coming from deferred projects overseas, and the other half was planned for projects in the U.S.
“DoD is evaluating the injunction right now, and will work with the Department of Justice on the next steps. DoD will comply with all court orders,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell in a statement.
The lawsuit, brought by El Paso County, Texas, and Border Network for Human Rights, argued that Trump overreached his authority when issuing a national emergency declaration to gain access to additional funds for his border wall, despite receiving $1.375 billion from Congress.
“The President’s emergency proclamation was a blatant attempt to grab power from Congress. Today’s order affirms that the President is not a king and that our courts are willing to check him when he oversteps his bounds,” said Kristy Parker, counsel for Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan nonprofit which represented the plaintiffs, in a statement.