President Donald Trump is determined to get his policy aims accomplished, no matter precedent or in some cases, consequences. This Friday, the Department of Defense announced that it was formally redirecting a full $1.5 billion towards the construction of more than 120 miles of Trump’s long-sought southern border wall. The money is coming after Trump signed a national emergency declaration in an attempt to use subsequent executive authority to get already allocated money from inside government for his wall, and he’s already proven successful on that front, getting some $1 billion for that back in March. In February, he apparently also got some $3.6 billion in military construction funds moved towards his wall.
The money comes as the military continues to face other tangibly pressing issues domestically and abroad, ranging from needed repairs at military installations damaged by storms to supporting Afghanistan security during negotiations meant to bring about an end to the United States’ lengthy military involvement there. More than $600 million will be going from an account meant to support local Afghan security forces to the border wall effort. That’s subtracted from about $5 billion that had been appropriated to support those forces this year; U.S. officials say that the decrease in funding will not impact readiness because according to one:
‘It took less money to meet the policy commitment than we thought.’
Other money adding up to the latest $1.5 billion will come from a chemical demilitarization program, a retirement account, and funds for Pakistan and Air Force programs, Reuters shares. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has suggested that he’ll aim to curb the Pentagon’s ability to even do that in the first place if they proceed with the re-allocations.
Trump has already gotten military forces redirected to his nonexistent southern border crisis before. At present, there are more than 4,000 service members at the border and some 19 aircraft confronting a supposed crime problem that the president can’t point to in the data. Every single border county but one has documented recent lower crime rates than comparable jurisdictions elsewhere in the United States, and there are no crime rates among undocumented immigrant populations at large suggesting they pose a special security threat to the United States.
Democratic lawmakers have re-upped their opposition in the wake of the Trump administration’s latest move, represented in the Defense Department by acting Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who the president is nominating to formally replace James Mattis.
Senate Democrats shared:
‘Once again, the Department of Defense has ignored decades of precedent and cooperation with the Congress in carrying out a transfer of funds without regard to any consultation with the Appropriations Committee. We are dismayed that the Department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster relief needs of our service members, given the finite reprogramming authority available.’
Meanwhile, Trump keeps stumping about the supposed necessity of his wall and threatening even more drastic measures at times, like completely shutting down the United States’ southern border. He explicitly said he doesn’t find the potential economic consequences of that to be enough of an issue to keep the option from being viable.
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