Congress Makes Power Move To Block Wall Funding & Renames Bases

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The House Appropriations Committee has approved a version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the upcoming fiscal year, and they included a couple of high-profile provisions that are sure to spark the ire of President Donald Trump and his allies if they make it into a final version of the legislation. The legislation approves defense spending for the year, and in their newly approved version of the bill, the Democrat-led panel included a ban on using Defense Department money for southern border wall construction and money to use for renaming the ten Army bases that are named after Confederate military leaders. Among other issues, Trump has recently decided to make it one of his chief goals to fight to keep monuments to the Confederacy in place.

The defense spending bill includes approvals for a total of $694.6 billion in spending, which includes $626.2 billion for delineated budget items alongside $68.4 billion for the the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund. Some of the budget items include a 3 percent pay raise for soldiers and a slew of new jets and ships, among other things. Also included are $1 million to pay for renaming the Confederacy-honoring bases and the prohibition on using Defense Department money for southern border wall construction, which the Trump administration has done after the president signed a dubious at best “national emergency” declaration covering the southern border. The declaration cleared the way for the administration to transfer money to new projects without the consent of Congress.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), the top Republican on the House Appropriations Committee’s Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, complained about the wall funding ban. He commented:

‘While this is a very strong bill, there are numerous provisions, like the prohibition on funding for the southwest border wall construction and limitations on DoD’s general and special transfer authorities, that will draw a veto threat from the administration.’

Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), the chairman of the panel’s defense subcommittee, countered arguments against the legislation by condemning the administration’s original decisions to unilaterally transfer funds for the construction of the border wall. He said:

‘The sense of entitlement in these actions is galling, and I hope that at some point the department will have the leadership in place who recognize Congress’ constitutional prerogative and restore trust to the appropriations process.’

Trump has already threatened to veto the defense spending authorization for next year, although he made the specific threat after a GOP-led committee in the Senate passed a version of it. He tweeted:

‘I will Veto the Defense Authorization Bill if the Elizabeth “Pocahontas” Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) of Fort Bragg, Fort Robert E. Lee, and many other Military Bases from which we won Two World Wars, is in the Bill!’

During a Fox News interview, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) — not exactly a liberal — said that he “[hopes] the president will reconsider vetoing the entire defense bill, which includes pay raises for our troops, over a provision in there that could lead to changing the names of some of these military bases.” It’s unclear what the president might do.