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New Democrat House bill aims to ban Pentagon border wall money

U.S. Border Patrol Agents at Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach watch over personnel that are reinforcing the border wall with concertina wire. (Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
May 14, 2019

The House Appropriations Committee has unveiled a draft 2020 defense funding bill that would ban the Pentagon from spending money to build a southern border wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The $690 billion proposed Defense Department funding bill was revealed Tuesday and will be considered in subcommittee on Wednesday.

The proposed funding bill “prohibits the use of Defense funds for the President’s border wall at our troops’ expense,” the House Appropriations Committee said.

New York Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat who chairs the committee, said, “The bill ensures that our service members are trained and equipped to do their jobs safely and effectively and that they are prepared for future military needs. We have the most capable and advanced military in the world, and this bill honors their mission by adequately funding programs to care for service members and their families, and by protecting defense funding from being stolen for the President’s wasteful wall,” according to a press release.

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Congressional Democrats have long fought President Donald Trump’s requests for border wall funding, even though the President has declared the situation at the nation’s southern border a national emergency and a humanitarian crisis.

Trump and Democrats have faced off over border wall funding for several months, and Trump has repeatedly asked for funds to address the influx of illegal immigrants and the security situations at the border.

The President declared a national emergency this past February in order to fund an additional $6.5 billion for southern border security.

Trump requested $6.5 billion in addition to what Congress had approved for border security, which was $1.375 billion – significantly less than what the President had requested in the first place. The back-and-forth between Trump and Democrats over the issue kept the federal government shut down for its longest stint in history.

Congress’ proposal, along with Trump’s additional request, brought the total to roughly $8 billion for more than 200 miles of steel border barriers. Congress’ funding provided for about 55 miles of barriers. The funds are being redirected from the Pentagon and U.S. Treasury.

Last week, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved a plan to reallocate $1.5 billion for an 80-mile border wall.

The funds were pulled from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, Air Force programs, coalition support funding, a chemical weapons project, and military retirement system savings.

Trump had said in the past he would declare a national emergency to build the border wall if Congress didn’t provide the funds for it. He has also said the U.S. “will build a Human Wall if necessary” at the southern border with Mexico.