The Pentagon has moved ahead with its plan to transfer $1 billion from its accounts to help build President Trump’s border wall, despite congressional backlash and the possibility that the Defense Department will lose its ability to move dollars between accounts in the future.
Defense Department Chief Financial Officer David Norquist told lawmakers on Wednesday that the money was transferred to the Army Corps of Engineers on Tuesday night.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters traveling with him to Florida that the Pentagon always planned to move forward with the plan to shift the money, no matter the expected “consequences,” Defense News reported.
“We’re following the law,” Shanahan said. “We’re very sensitive to the consequences of these kinds of actions, and the relationships we’ve built up over time. There are going to be consequences, and I understand the position of the committees. I also have a standing legal order from the commander in chief.”
The reprogramming of funds comes after Rep. Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), chairman of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, rejected the Pentagon’s bid to shift the money, adding his weight to the growing group of lawmakers that have condemned the move.
“The Committee denies the request,” Visclosky wrote in a Tuesday letter to Norquist that was made public the following day. “These funds were neither requested nor appropriated for the activities described in the reprogramming. With this unilateral action, the historic and unprecedented comity that has existed between the Committee and the Department has been breached.”
Trump on Feb. 15 declared a national emergency at the southern border as part of a maneuver to gain billions of dollars in border wall funding that Congress had denied him. The move allows the president to claim broader authorities and order the Pentagon to move money from its accounts to build a border barrier.
The administration plans to pull a total of $6.1 billion from Pentagon accounts, $2.5 billion from counter-drug programs and $3.6 billion from military construction funds.
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