House panel denies Pentagon request for $1B to fund Trump’s border wall

A House committee on Tuesday denied the Defense Department’s request to transfer $1 billion from planned projects to pay for President Trump’s long-promised border wall.

“The committee denies the request. The committee does not approve the proposed use of Department of Defense funds to construct additional barriers and roads or install lighting in the vicinity of the United States border,” Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) wrote to David Norquist, chief financial officer for the department.

Smith, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, also slammed the request in a statement.

“DoD is attempting to circumvent Congress and the American people’s opposition,” he said.

Defense identified $1 billion in other projects to build Trump’s wall along the US-Mexico border, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan wrote in a letter Monday to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.

The projects pushed by DHS include 57 miles of 18-foot-high fencing, roads, and lighting in the El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona, areas of the border.

Shanahan was scheduled to testify before the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

In his statement, Smith said he looked forward to grilling Shanahan at the hearing.

“We look forward to hearing how he intends to pilfer the military construction accounts, circumvent the intended nature of the law, while simultaneously abusing the trust of the American people,” he said.

Trump declared a national emergency over what he calls the “crisis” at the southern border so that he could try to reshuffle money already allocated for other projects.

Asylum-seeking migrants from Central America, meanwhile, are crossing the southern border in numbers not seen since 2005, swamping border personnel and detention facilities.

The fight over his declaration — which Democrats call a political stunt to fulfill a campaign promise as the 2020 election looms — was certain to wind up in court.

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