In a letter to the Department of Defense, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), chairman of of House Armed Services Committee, denied their request to redirect $1 billion to fund the border wall and other border security on the U.S.-Mexico border.
“The Committee denies this request. The Committee does not approve the proposed use of Department of Defense funds to construct additional physical barriers and roads or install lighting in the vicinity of the United States border,” the letter read.
The Pentagon announced on Monday that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan has authorized the “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin planning and executing up to $1 billion” to build new walls and reinforce the southern border..
Smith criticized the DOD for the approval of the funds in a press release.
“DoD’s recent notification of its intent to use that process to reprogram $1 billion without Congressional approval is a violation of that trust,” Smith said. DoD is attempting to circumvent Congress and the American people’s opposition to using taxpayer money for the construction of an unnecessary wall, and the military is paying the cost.”
“This needs to stop. Based on the unfunded requests received for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget and the issues raised by the Marine Corps, there are obviously more pressing issues with readiness and modernization that these funds could - and more importantly should - go to,” he added. “Instead of focusing on readiness, hurricane recovery, and other genuine issues, the administration continues to spend billions of dollars on an imaginary crisis.”
The Military Times reports the denial sets the stage for a battle on who has the final say for redirecting funding. “This is really a constitutional issue … this is a core power of the purse issue,” Rick Berger, a defense research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, told the Times.
In order to stop the DOD, a bill, specifically written to halt the reallotment, would have to pass in the both the House and the Senate. In practice, Berger said "there’s nothing Congress can do to keep DoD from obligating and moving [the funds] to those 57 miles on the border...”