WASHINGTON —Last year the White House raided military construction funds to pay for work on the US-Mexico border wall. This year they are seeking at least $3.8 billion from the Pentagon’s weapons.
The Trump administration sent official notification to Congress on Thursday, saying the military funds are “required to provide support for counter-drug activities of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”
The announcement occurred as tribal leaders and members of Congress confirmed that Native American burial sites at Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, have been blown up by construction crews building the US-Mexico border wall.
The Trump administration has a green light to redirect the funds after Democrats failed to include a prohibition against such funs shifts in the fiscal 2020 budget deal that was approved late last year.
The move drew bipartisan opposition quickly.
“The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action,” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Tex., said in a statement. “I will be working with my colleagues to determine the appropriate steps to take.”
Thornberry is the ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.
Among the weapons targeted: the F-35 program for $1.4 billion, landing helicopter assault replacement program, $650 million; expeditionary fast transport program $261 million, and $1.3 billion from the National Guard and Reserve Equipment (NGRE) account.
It means that over two years, Trump has diverted almost $10 billion from Pentagon accounts toward his wall.
The Pentagon seemed onboard with the move.
“Last month we received a new request from the Department of Homeland Security asking for assistance in blocking drug-smuggling corridors on Federal land along the southern border of the United States,” Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell, a Pentagon spokesperson, said in a statement to Pentagon reporters. “In response, the Secretary of Defense authorized support of $3.8B to build approximately 177 miles of fencing that will help to protect our borders. We will continue to support DHS and other agencies as needed to keep our homeland is secure.”