After the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requested $3.8 billion from DOD for border wall construction, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper approved the diversion of funds, cutting money that was to be used for Navy and Air Force aircraft, weapons, and other equipment as designated by the FY2020 Defense Authorization and Appropriations (NDAA) Act.
Retiring Texas representative and ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry (R-TX-13), was among those who condemned the move by the administration, describing it as “contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority.”
“We take the Pentagon’s recommendations seriously during our deliberations, but the final decisions are contained in the bills passed by Congress and signed into law… The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action,” Rep. Thornberry said in an official statement.
Thornberry continued by recognizing the need for enhanced border security, while also expressing his disapproval for how these measures are to be achieved.
“To be clear, I continue to believe that the situation on our southern border represents a national security challenge for our country… 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 in law,” Thornberry said.
Texas Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX-16) also condemned the administration’s action, describing it as demonstrating “complete disregard for our service members and a strong national defense.”
Collectively, the president has put forward more than $3 billion for border barrier construction through traditional congressional methods and obtained nearly $7 billion through less traditional measures, including national emergency declarations and the use of money previously seized by law enforcement.
In January, DHS requested DOD transfer over $5 billion for the construction of 271 miles of border wall construction in an effort to curb drug trafficking.
In response, DOD agreed to transfer a portion of the requested amount.
The most recent diversion is reportedly going to be used for the construction of 177 miles of new border wall in California, Arizona, and Texas.
In Texas, the diverted funds will specifically affect districts with strong military ties, such as the 12th Congressional District currently represented by Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX-12), where F-35 fighter jets are manufactured.
Granger currently serves as the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, and although she has been endorsed by President Trump, the long-time incumbent is facing a competitive primary from Chris Putnam, a former Colleyville councilman, heading into the primary election.
In January, the Fifth Circuit court reversed a border wall injunction imposed by a federal judge in El Paso, effectively freeing up $3.6 billion in blocked funds for border wall construction.
Last month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that 101 miles of the border wall had been completed, 133 miles were under construction, and 343 were in a pre-construction phase.
In 2019, illegal immigrant apprehensions peaked at a 13-year high during the month of May while high-profile cartel violence claimed the lives of nine Americans, including two 8-month old twins.
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Sarah McConnell is a reporter for The Texan. Previously, she worked as a Cyber Security Consultant after serving as a Pathways Intern at the Department of Homeland Security – Citizenship and Immigration Services. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Texas A&M as well as her Master of Public Service and Administration degree from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M. In her free time, Sarah is an avid runner, jazz enthusiast, and lover of all things culinary.