Today, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper sent a letter to Sen. James Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, revealing that the Pentagon will reallocate $3.6 billion to 11 border wall construction projects. From CNN:
Defense Department officials say 127 military construction projects are being put on hold in order to use the $3.6 billion to fund building 175 miles of southern border wall.
Construction is expected to begin in about 135 days in areas where the federal government already owns the land along the border, including the Department of Defense’s Barry M. Goldwater test range in Arizona, according to Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Comptroller Elaine McCusker.
McCusker said projects on private land could go past 2020 due to issues involved with land acquisition.
According to chief Pentagon spokesperson Jonathan Hoffman, half the money is coming from deferred projects overseas, and the other half were planned for projects in the US.
The money originally intended for overseas projects will be tapped first.
The full letter is here. Naturally, Democrats are not happy with this plan. Chuck Schumer tweeted his displeasure a few hours ago:
It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that @realDonaldTrump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego, and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build. https://t.co/sv2ys87bw1
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) September 3, 2019
Senate Democrats on the Appropriations Committee sent a letter to Sec. Esper today demanding more information about what projects would be impacted. The Pentagon is saying that members of Congress whose districts are impacted by the change in spending will be notified and, once that’s done, the public will be notified.
Trump’s plan to have the funds reallocated was blocked this summer by lower courts but in July the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to lift those injunctions and allow the money to be spent. That decision was deemed a major victory for Trump at the time.