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President Trump tours a section of the southern border wall in 2019, in Otay Mesa, Calif. Evan Vucci/AP hide caption
The Trump administration has notified Congress that it plans to divert $3.8 billion from the Defense Department’s budget to build the border wall.
This is in addition to more than $11 billion that’s already been identified to construct roughly 500 miles of new barriers along the southern U.S. border with Mexico. That includes money that Congress has appropriated and funding that was previously diverted from military construction and counternarcotic operations.
The latest funding diversion takes $1.5 billion originally allocated for buying equipment for National Guard and Reserve units, such as trucks, generators and spare parts, as well as fighter jets and ships.
The move drew bipartisan criticism, including from the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry.
People work at a portion of border wall which is under construction in Yuma, Ariz. Illegal border crossings have plummeted as the Trump administration has extended a policy to make asylum seekers wait in Mexico for court hearings in the U.S. Elliot Spagat/AP hide caption
“The wall should be funded, but the funding must come through the Department of Homeland Security rather than diverting critical military resources that are needed and in law,” Thornberry said in a statement.
He added that Congress must act and is weighing how to proceed.
“Congress has the constitutional responsibility to determine how defense dollars are spent,” he said. “The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action. I will be working with my colleagues to determine the appropriate steps to take.”
Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, accused the president of being “obsessed with fulfilling a campaign promise” while accusing the administration in a tweet of “stealing billions” from the Department of Defense.
Today’s reprogramming request confirms once again that the President is obsessed with fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of our national security. This admin has already stolen billions from the DoD for the President’s vanity wall, and today they are doubling down.
— Rep. Adam Smith (@RepAdamSmith) February 13, 2020
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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sources: Business news from npr.org