The Trump administration this week took steps to move forward with a plan to reroute $3.6 billion from military construction projects to building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, a priority for President Trump since his 2016 campaign.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the transfer of the Pentagon funds to construct 175 miles of border wall, a move that comes several months after Trump declared a national emergency regarding the situation at the border, where thousands of migrants have crossed into the U.S. illegally in recent months.
Esper outlined the plan and how it will affect military projects in various states during a Tuesday phone call with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, and other congressional leaders.
Democrats and some Republicans have panned the administration’s decision, saying Congress should have a say in siphoning large amounts of funding from the military. The Pentagon said 127 military construction projects will be suspended, and border wall construction will commence in 135 days.
“The president is trying to usurp Congress’s exclusive power of the purse and loot vital funds from our military,” Schumer said. “It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President Trump is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build.”
Pelosi added in a statement that the House will fight such an “unacceptable and deeply dangerous decision.”
“The President is robbing the men and women of our armed services of funds meant for critical construction projects that are necessary to serve our troops, support our allies, deter our adversaries, and care for our military families — all to build a wall that will do nothing to solve the humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border or protect the American people,” read a joint statement from Senator Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, and Brian Schatz, who sit on several Senate committees dealing with appropriations and defense.