Pentagon Diverts Military Aircraft Funds to Border Wall

Lawmakers from both parties slam move to shift $3.8B in military spending
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 14, 2020 4:43 AM CST
Pentagon Diverts Military Aircraft Funds to Border Wall
In this Sept. 10, 2019 photo, government contractors erect a section of Pentagon-funded border wall along the Colorado River in Yuma, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Matt York)

"I'm going to build a wall and divert funds from military aircraft to pay for it" isn't exactly what President Trump promised in 2016—but he is likely to at least have some progress in wall construction to point to during this year's election. The Pentagon told Congress Thursday that it is cutting $3.83 billion from elsewhere in its budget to fund the construction of 177 miles of border barriers. According to documents seen by the Washington Post, the funding is being diverted from Marine Corps, Navy, and Air Force aircraft, as well as programs to update Army vehicles and buy new equipment for the National Guard. The move is allowed—without congressional approval—under a counternarcotics law.

The Pentagon budget documents describe some of the items being cut, including two Marine Corps F-35 fighters sought by Texas lawmakers, as "congressional special interest items." Lawmakers from both parties spoke out against the move to "re-program" military funds without the approval of Congress, the AP reports. "The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress's constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action," said Rep. Mack Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee. Rep. Adam Smith, the panel's Democratic chairman, accused Trump of being "obsessed with fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of our national security." (More border wall stories.)

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