House Democrats have officially unveiled their next step in the gradually intensifying back and forth with the Trump administration over defense funding for the next fiscal year. Their new legislation blocks the usage of money from the Defense Department for the southern border wall that Trump has long sought blocking off Mexico, which he has already garnered at least $2.5 billion pledged for in the last couple of months from the Pentagon under a national emergency declaration he signed earlier this year over the supposed crisis at the southern border.
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) shared:
‘The bill ensures that our service members are trained and equipped to do their jobs safely and effectively and that they are prepared for future military needs. We have the most capable and advanced military in the world, and this bill honors their mission by adequately funding programs to care for service members and their families, and by protecting defense funding from being stolen for the president’s wasteful wall.’
Besides blocking any defense money from being used for a border wall, the House Democrats’ new defense funding proposal would also drastically reduce the amount of money the Pentagon is even legally permitted to reallocate in the first place. The Trump administration has requested a full $9.5 billion, but they’d dial that down to $1.5 billion. Normally, the Defense Department has sought the approval of relevant Congressional committee chairs when reprogramming money, but not this time.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) has already been among those to suggest Democrats would unveil a proposed drawback of the Pentagon’s ability to reallocate its own money in the wake of the border wall fiasco. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told that committee that the president decided to move forward with the push for funds even after being warned that Congress could end up cutting the department off from taking similar moves in the future. In other words, Trump was willing to see an entire feature of government go up in metaphorical smoke that could allow the Defense Department to adequately respond to changing — and actual — threats.
Despite Trump’s repeated claims otherwise, there is no security crisis at the southern border, although there is a humanitarian one — which he wants to respond to with a wall and the force of the U.S. military, which currently is stationed in the area. They’re there to confront a growing number of asylum-seekers hoping for refuge from violence in their home areas, and Trump just wants to confront them with more violence.
He has, for instance, recently been stumping for the idea of reinstituting family separations as an across the board policy, with no evidence to support its legitimacy other than the flat-out lie that border crossings increased ten-fold in its absence.
The money that he’s seeking to use for his long-sought border wall comes from a variety of sources inside the military, like a significant chunk of money that had been previously allocated to supporting Afghan security forces, where the United States is currently negotiating a withdrawal from the lengthy conflict.
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