President Donald Trump angered several top Democrats after it was revealed that his administration announced that several billion in military project funding would be diverted to be used for construction on the new border wall.
According to The Hill, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper notified top Democratic leadership on Tuesday of the decision, which included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Schumer was one of the first to respond to the move, given the state he represents has several of the military projects — which are now on hold — that were to be funded by the money now being used for border wall construction.
He leveled harsh criticism against Trump and accused the president of going around Congress’ power of the purse.
“The president is trying to usurp Congress’s exclusive power of the purse and loot vital funds from our military. Robbing the Defense Department of much-needed funds is an affront to our service members and Congress will strongly oppose any funds for new wall construction,” Schumer said.
Pelosi reportedly echoed Schumer’s anger over the announcement during a strategic phone call, per an unnamed participant, citing a national security and troop morale as one of the primary reasons she doesn’t agree with the president’s decision.
“Canceling military construction projects at home and abroad will undermine our national security and the quality of life and morale of our troops, making America less secure,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi doubled down by calling the decision “dangerous,” before vowing to use her power in the House to mount a fight against the Trump administration on this particular issue.
“The House will continue to fight this unacceptable and deeply dangerous decision in the Courts, in the Congress and in the court of public opinion, and honor our oath to protect the Constitution,” Pelosi said.
According to Pentagon officials, The $3.6 billion being moved from military construction projects will fund approximately 175 miles of new wall on the southern U.S. border.
The Pentagon is halting 127 projects to allocate $3.6 billion toward 11 military construction projects for Trump's border wallhttps://t.co/tB6jecgeJq
— Axios (@axios) September 3, 2019
Earlier this year, Trump declared a national emergency in the midst of what he called a border crisis after a funding bill passed by Congress only provided $1.35 billion for wall construction at that time. Congress then tried to cancel the declaration by passing a resolution, which Trump would go on to veto. Congress failed to override Trump’s veto, though Democrats said they would force another vote in the fall of 2019.
The diversion of funds means putting on hold approximately 127 various military construction projects, roughly half of which are overseas. Republicans promised to replace the diverted funding through future budget bills, however, they would need support from Democrats to make it happen.
Construction on the new stretch of the border wall is expected to begin in 135 days, according to what Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker explained to reporters.