The Pentagon is shifting $1.5 billion in funds originally targeted for support of the Afghan security forces and other projects to build more than 80 miles of President Trump’s border wall, officials said Friday.
“Today we reprogrammed $1.5 billion toward the construction of more than 120 miles of border barrier without impacting readiness,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick 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.
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.
“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.”
The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Dick Durbin (Ill.), Jack Reed (R.I.), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Tom Udall (N.M.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Chris Murphy (Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) and Jon Tester (Mont.).