Trump Slammed For Taking Military Construction Money For Border Wall Funding
Despite bipartisan criticism, President Donald Trump has stood by his administration’s decision to divert over $1 billion in military funding to his border wall on the US-Mexico border.
While Democrats opposed the move outright, as the party has doubled down in opposition to the border wall, some Republicans have come out against it as well. Sens. Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, both Republicans from Utah, have declared the cash grab an overstep of the executive branch into what is rightfully the purview of Congress.
Romney defended the wall as “an important priority,” but he also stated, “The executive branch should use the appropriate channels in Congress, rather than divert already appropriated funding away from military construction projects and therefore undermining military readiness.”
Defense Secretary Mark Esper related to Congress on Tuesday that money would be shifted away from over 100 military projects, of which the majority were renovations and improvements for both domestic bases and those abroad.
All these projects are important to us … but we also have to respond to the emergency that we’ve been directed to respond to on the southwest border,” stated a senior official at the White House.
The cuts are distributed unevenly among states. New York was hit hardest, with $160 million taken, forcing the state to scrap plans to renovate the engineering center and parking garage at West Point.
Puerto Rico and Guam both suffered the largest cuts, $403 million and $257 million respectively. Both are U.S. held territories and are significant military bases for U.S. troops. Puerto Rico suffered severe damage from Hurricane Maria in 2017 and has been a continued target of Trump’s criticism. Military installations in 19 other countries have also had their budgets slashed.
The Pentagon has offered to provide back funding for all defunded projects, though the offer has been refused by several members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who are opposed to any funding for projects they deem to be within the congressional purview.
The burden of defunding has not fallen evenly. The majority, 59%, of the cuts are aimed at Democrat-held congressional districts and 55% come out of states which were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border is at the root of the issue. That step provided the authority to divert $8 billion of federally funded projects across the board. However, reports from the border indicate a continued decline of unauthorized border crossings, including a 30% drop in August, at a point when crossings were already at a record low.
Nevertheless, Trump has vowed to complete 500 miles of the wall before the 2020 election.
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