Trump Administration Diverts $3.8 Billion for Wall Funding

Claire McMahon, Scarlet Staff

The Pentagon recently diverted $3.8 billion from the Department of Defense, money that Congress had allocated for fighter jets, ships, and other National Guard equipment, to help fund the building of a wall along the Southern border of the United States.

President Trump’s border wall was the most prominent pillar of his 2016 presidential campaign. Immigration remains one of the more relevant issues in the 2020 race, and the president has made it clear that building a wall is still a top priority of his.

The border wall–whose total estimated cost is over $11 billion, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection–is not a long-term, effective solution to the immigration problems that our country faces.

Sacrificing money that would have been well spent on items to protect the country for a presidential pride mission is irresponsible and not in the best interest of the American people.

Congress has consistently refused to provide Trump with the funds that he requests for this project.

The Trump administration made a similar decision in March of last year after Congress had apportioned $1.3 billion dollars to fund a border wall, and the Department of Defense used an additional $1 billion from the military budget.

The administration has once again undermined Congress’s power of the purse and thus our government’s system of checks and balances.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) criticized the decision in a joint statement. “This latest theft of nearly $4 billion in military funds represents another of President Trump’s broken promises to our service members, especially our brave sailors who he assured would receive funding for urgently needed, state-of-the-art ships.”

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), ranking member on the House Committee on Appropriations, said that she “unequivocally support[s] President Trump’s efforts to secure our nation’s borders and support our men and women in uniform.”

A more effective way to “support our men and women in uniform” would be to use these billions for necessary National Guard equipment, as was originally intended.

Rep. Granger went on to say that “Democrats have refused to work with us on border security, which has forced the President to redirect funds from other defense programs in the short term in order to secure the southern border.”

A common argument that Republicans have waged is that Congressional Democrats have not apportioned enough money for the wall, so Trump had no choice but to work around them. While this might make sense if the priority of the American government is to feed the ego of the president, it is an unconstitutional way to achieve a policy goal.

Challenges to the administration’s ability to use Pentagon funds for the building of the wall have previously been shot down in federal courts.

The Supreme Court ruled in July that the administration could use $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds to continue building the wall, after a lawsuit by the ACLU. Just last month, a federal appeals court gave the administration permission to use $3.6 billion of military construction funds for the wall.

These decisions highlight the increasing partisanship of the judicial branch since such action is clearly a breach of the Constitution.

The Constitution gives Congress exclusive authority to allocate federal funds. When the president is unsatisfied with the decision that Congress has made, he does not have the power to use the funds that they had allocated for a different purpose to fulfill his own goals.

The administration’s decision inspired bipartisan disapproval.

“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 and in law,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Wash.), accused the Trump administration of having “stolen billions” of dollars from the Department of Defense.

It has become increasingly clear that President Trump is willing to go to extraordinary lengths, such as flouting the foundational system of our government, to fulfill his signature campaign promise at the expense of his duties to the country.