Big news out today….the Pentagon has officially transferred $1.5B from accounts marked for Afghan forces and other uses over to construciton on President Trump’s wall!
In other words: full steam ahead!
Look at this:
Fox News spilled all the details:
The Pentagon has approved a plan to spend an additional $1.5 billion to build 80 more miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, a U.S. defense official confirmed to Fox News Friday.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the re-allocation of funds, which were originally earmarked for support of Afghan security forces and other projects, to help pay for the wall along the southern border.
"Today, I authorized the transfer of $1.5 billion toward the construction of more than 80 miles of border barrier," he said. "The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes, and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness."
In March, Shanahan approved the first transfer of Defense Department dollars and redirected $1 billion to help build nearly 60 miles of wall in Yuma, Ariz. and El Paso, Texas.
The combined total of $2.5 billion is in response to President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border.
But the plan to divert Pentagon funding has sparked criticism from congressional Democrats, who accused Shanahan of not seeking approval to “reprogram” the funds without congressional authority. Shanahan and other senior defense officials claimed in response they did not have to get permission from Congress despite the objections from Democratic lawmakers.
Shanahan, who has said he plans to visit the border on Saturday, said that the Pentagon is “fully engaged” in fixing the border crisis. He said that more than 4,000 troops and 19 aircraft are supporting Customs and Border Protection personnel.
The funds are being reprogrammed from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, a project focused on chemical weapons, Air Force programs, savings related to a military retirement system, and coalition support funds. The Pentagon is also expected, at some point, to transfer up to $3.6 billion from military construction budgets to pay for wall construction, but details of those plans have yet to be announced.
The move comes after White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said Thursday that the president would officially nominate Shanahan to be the next U.S. secretary of defense. The decision to have Shanahan permanently lead the department “is based upon his outstanding service to the country and his demonstrated ability to lead.”
"Acting Secretary Shanahan has proven over the last several months that he is beyond qualified to lead the Department of Defense, and he will continue to do so," Sanders said in a statement Thursday.
Shanahan said he was “honored” by Trump’s decision.
The Hill explained more:
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has approved the transfer of $1.5 billion from Pentagon coffers — including more than $600 million from an Afghan security forces account — to build more than 120 miles of barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a Pentagon statement released Friday.
"Today we reprogrammed $1.5 billion toward the construction of more than 120 miles of border barrier without impacting readiness," Shanahan said in a statement.
"The funds were culled from a variety of sources, to include unexecuted prior year funds, the suspension of reimbursements to Pakistan, and costs reductions in a series of contracts.”
The statement adds that the Defense Department "is fully engaged on the crisis along our southwest border," with more than 4,000 service members and 19 aircraft there supporting the Department of Homeland Services.
Reuters reported that the transfer would include $604 million from Afghan security forces accounts, with the rest coming from Air Force programs, a chemical demilitarization program, a retirement account and military dollars for Pakistan.
An unnamed U.S. official told the news service that $4.9 billion was appropriated for the security forces for fiscal 2019, and that money was taken from the account as savings in contracts were found.
Following news of the transfer, every Democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies slammed the decision in a letter to Shanahan.
The lawmakers worry that the latest reprogramming will come at the expense of the military's readiness.
“Once again, the Department of Defense has ignored decades of precedent and cooperation with the Congress in carrying out a transfer of funds without regard to any consultation with the Appropriations Committee,” they wrote. “We are dismayed that the Department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster relief needs of our service members, given the finite reprogramming authority available.”