Pentagon sent in a message to Congress on Monday, informing them that it had transferred $1 billion in military personnel funding for President Donald Trump to construct the wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In a memo addressed and issued to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, Patrick Shanahan, the acting defense secretary, said he’d already authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to commence construction of the 57 miles of fencing along the southern border, as well as rebuilding roads in Yuma, Arizona, and El Paso, Texas, CNN reported.
In a letter to Shanahan issued on Monday, quite a number of Democratic Senators led by Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Richard Durbin of Illinois said they strongly objected to the transfer of funds without their consent, which they described as a violation of congressional appropriations.
“We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defense appropriation itself. As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military.” The senators wrote.
”Noting that the Pentagon requests “billions in mid-year transfers” every year to address “unexpected shortfalls in paying our troops, providing training, maintaining their equipment and accelerating new technologies,” the lawmakers said the reprogramming of funds “constitutes a dollar-for-dollar theft from other readiness needs of our Armed Forces.”
President Trump declared a national emergency last month in an effort to bypass Congress and divert billions of dollars in defense funds to build his long-touted border wall.
The New York Times noted that the Pentagon’s recent transfer was made without using the president’s declaration of national emergency.
Meanwhile, the Defense Department had informed Congress last week that hundreds of military construction projects may be dropped or delayed just to fund the wall construction.