The border wall is President Donald Trump's beloved brainchild, cornerstone of his presidential campaign and a promise he can't easily forget. He's touted it as the solution to a southern border crisis, but the billions of dollars needed to build it don't come that easy, especially when half of Congress despises the idea. Three years after he first introduced the idea, however, Trump's day might finally be here, as the Pentagon will redirect $3.6 billion to Trump's border wall from other military projects, per The New York Times.
The diversion of funds will delay or suspend 127 military construction projects, according to The New York Times. The news reached Democratic politicians through a letter from Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Sept. 3, in which he said the money will fund projects aimed to “deter illegal entry, increasing the vanishing time of those illegally crossing the border, and channel migrants to ports of entry.” Though the specifics have yet to be named, it would be about a half-and-half split between domestic and overseas projects, Esper wrote in the letter. Elite Daily reached out to the White House and the U.S. Department of Defense for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York expressed anger on behalf of Democratic lawmakers and the U.S. military in a press release on Sept. 3. “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,” Schumer wrote. He added that the president is trying to “usurp Congress’s exclusive power of the purse” and rob the country’s defense department.
The announcement breaks a relatively long silence from the White House about the wall's progress, the president’s proposed security project along the United States’ border with Mexico to block immigrant entry. The wall was at the forefront of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, as “Build the Wall” became his supporters’ rallying cry at campaign events and decorated MAGA merchandise. To follow through on his promises, he declared a national emergency in February 2019 in order to try to source funds for the wall from the military, after Congress refused to approve the nearly $6 billion in funding he had requested.
Now, Trump may soon getting what he wanted. The Pentagon’s acting comptroller Elaine McCusker told reporters that construction could begin in as soon as 100 days, according to Politico. The $3.6 billion will go toward both building new stretches of wall and improving current structures. The Pentagon is expected to release a comprehensive list of delayed projects on Sept. 4.
Other minority lawmakers committed to resisting the president. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi called the wall “wasteful” and “ineffective." In a press release from the committee on appropriations, Sens. Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, and Brian Schatz criticized Trump for “robbing” the military of essential funding and said the wall would “do nothing to solve the humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border or protect the American people.” The American Civil Liberties Union also plans to file a motion to block the transfer of funds.
Pelosi and Congressional Democrats have recommitted themselves to fighting the decision in Congress, adding a new item to their post-recess agenda. For now, though, there's a solid chance at least some of Trump's long-awaited border wall will soon be in the works, and it's a race to the courts to see how far he will get.