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Federal Judge Blocks Trump Plan to Divert $3.6 Billion in Military Funds to Border Wall

President Donald Trump attends the NATO summit in Watford, near London, England, December 4, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked the Trump administration’s plan to divert $3.6 billion in military funding towards building a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border.

District Court judge David Briones of the Western District of Texas, a Clinton appointee, ruled that the administration would be violating the law in appropriating the funds earmarked by Congress for a different purpose.

Secretary of defense Mark Esper in September approved a rerouting of the funds from military construction projects to construct 175 miles of steel barriers, causing 127 military construction projects to be suspended. The move came several months after Trump declared a national emergency regarding the situation at the border.

The decision prompted criticism from Democrats and some Republicans, who said Congress should have a say in siphoning large amounts of funding from the military. The administration has already received $1.375 billion in border wall funding from Congress.

El Paso County, Texas, and Border Network for Human Rights sued the administration over the decision, saying President Trump exceeded his authority in declaring a national emergency over illegal immigration at the southern border and arguing that the situation does not meet the criteria of an “emergency.”

House speaker Nancy Pelosi praised Tuesday’s ruling in a statement, accusing Trump of attempting to subvert the separation of powers in the government.

“Once again, the courts have resoundingly ruled against the President’s attempt to negate our system of separation of powers, which is the genius of our Constitution, by assaulting Congress’s exclusive constitutional power of the purse,” Pelosi said in a statement.

The ruling targets about a third of the administration’s $10 billion in planned funding for barriers at the border, a priority for Trump since the earliest days of his 2016 campaign.

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