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Trump considering $18 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall construction: report

President Donald J. Trump visits the border area of Otay Mesa, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, a neighborhood along the Mexican border in San Diego, Calif. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
September 20, 2019

Just two weeks after Defense Secretary Mark Esper authorized $3.6 billion in Pentagon funding for the border wall at President Trump’s request, Trump is already considering reallocating more funds.

Officials close to the matter told The Washington Post on Thursday that the president is considering diverting billions more from military funding to the border wall construction next year.

Earlier this month, Trump requested $5 billion for border wall funding via the Department of Homeland Security budget. If not approved, the President could seek to draw another $3.6 billion from the Pentagon budget.

Documents obtained by The Washington Post show Trump’s wall construction plans, which establish a goal of building nearly 500 miles of wall before the 2020 election at a cost of $18.4 billion – an amount higher than the administration previously released.

During a White House meeting last week, administration officials discussed putting pressure on Congress to reimburse the $3.6 billion already drawn from the Pentagon budget for the wall construction.

The $3.6 billion authorized earlier this month officially pulled funding from 127 military construction projects, of which approximately half are domestic and half are overseas projects.

Esper noted that his authorization is afforded under “Section 2808” which allows the fund transfer “without regard to any other provision of the law that may impede the expeditious construction of such projects in response to the national emergency.”

“These projects will deter illegal entry, increase the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry,” he added.

Trump visited the wall this week and released a video showing the construction underway, saying, “GREAT progress on the Border Wall!”

Trump had issued a national emergency declaration on Feb. 15 requiring that $6.5 billion in funding would be diverted to southern border security, prompting staunch opposition and a series of legal challenges.

He had ordered the Pentagon to draw some $3.6 billion from the Pentagon’s military construction funds, and pull some $2.5 billion from military counternarcotics programs, as well as $600 million from an asset forfeiture program in the Treasury Department.

In May, a trial court had decided in May to halt the Administration from using the funds.

In July, the Supreme Court decided the Trump Administration could redirect $2.5 billion Pentagon funds for the border wall construction, ruling in a 5-4 vote to remove the injunction placed by a lower court, thus allowing the Trump Administration to proceed with using some of the Pentagon funds previously reallocated for the construction of the border wall.