Democrat Rep. Adam Smith held a defense breakfast with reporters on Wednesday during which he challenged President Donald Trump’s threat to use the military to build the border wall.
Smith, who is the incoming House Armed Services Committee chairman, said that there are enough Democratic and Republican members to enact legislation that would prevent President Trump from using the military budget for border wall construction, as the President recently warned, according to the Washington Examiner on Wednesday.
Smith noted that the block on Pentagon funds for the border wall is a stipulation that could be included in next year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
“We can certainly put legislation in that says no Department of Defense money should go towards the wall and that would preclude using our soldiers as part of the effort to build it,” Smith said. “I think there is some bipartisan support for that idea precisely because Republicans see greater defense needs.”
Rep. Smith said there is bipartisan support for putting legislation into #FY20NDAA blocking Trump from using military to build border wall.
— Travis J. Tritten (@Travis_Tritten) December 12, 2018
Trump made the threat in a tweet early Tuesday ahead of his tense meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at the White House.
He wrote, “People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!”
….People do not yet realize how much of the Wall, including really effective renovation, has already been built. If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the Wall. They know how important it is!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2018
Trump has also threatened to shut down the government if Democrats do not agree to his demands for $5 billion to fund the border wall.
“Our troops are not needed to secure the border,” Smith insisted, according to Stars & Stripes.
Smith noted that Trump campaigned on the promise of Mexico paying for the construction of the wall on the southern border, and that using Pentagon funds to accomplish the construction would break that promise.
“Why in the name of God are we shutting down the U.S. government because we won’t pay for it? Why is he breaking his promise?” Smith said.
Smith also said he didn’t believe the upcoming $750 billion budget proposal would include border wall funding, despite being $50 billion higher than what Trump requested.
“I don’t think there’s wall funding in that $750 billion number,” he said. “The President will send up his budget and we’ll see, and if there is wall funding we’ll all flip out and say ‘We can’t do that.’”
Democrats have been staunchly opposed to funding the border wall, calling the wall “ineffective” and a waste of funding.