DoD shifts $1 billion from Army to fund southern border

Julia LeDoux
March 26, 2019 - 10:49 am

Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Tawanna Starks

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to spend $1 billion to construct a fence along portions of the country’s southern border with Mexico.

“These funds will be used to support DHS’s request to build 57 miles of 18-foot high pedestrian fencing, constructing and improving roads and installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso sectors of the border,” a March 21 DoD release  states.

President Donald Trump declared a national emergency along the southern border Feb. 15 following Congress’s refusal to appropriate the $5.7 billion he wanted to construct the wall. According to Trump, the wall is a vital to national security.

RELATED: Trump declares national emergency to build border wall

Congress voted to disapprove the declaration, leading Trump to issue the first veto of his presidency. A vote today in the House of Representatives  to override that veto is expected to come up short of the votes it needs to pass.

RELATED: Lawmakers looking to wreck Trump’s plan for military to fund border wall

In the release, Shanahan noted that “10 U.S.C. § 284(b)(7) gives the Department of Defense the authority to construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of federal law enforcement agencies.”

RELATED: Pentagon: Here’s what’s on the chopping block to pay for a border wall

The national emergency declaration gives Trump the ability to tap into billions of dollars that have been earmarked for military construction projects in order to build the wall. The projects have been okayed by Congress, but are not yet under contract.

RELATED: Pentagon may tap military pay, pensions for border wall

Shanahan is expected to further discuss the construction project when he appears before Congress later today to discuss the Pentagon’s budget.

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