“I’d say this much: border security is national security and national security is our mission. I think many NATO allies understand that as well. The action we took is legal under the law. I think that should be no surprise and I’ll just leave it at that for now,” Esper said at a news conference in Munich, Germany.
“This Administration has already stolen billions from the Department of Defense in order to begin building the President’s vanity wall and today they are doubling down on bad policy,” House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith, a Democrat from Washington, said in a statement. “The President loves to take credit for ‘rebuilding’ the military, but today’s reprogramming decision does the exact opposite — it will prevent the acquisition of critical ships, vehicles, and aircraft,” he added.
The Trump administration has argued that it does not need congressional approval to redirect military funds to the border wall. While the White House has asked for less money for the wall in their formal budget request to Congress, the administration is increasingly relying on Pentagon funds to meet its goal of constructing additional barriers on the border.
“The Department of Defense is committed to supporting the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to secure the southern border by constructing fences and roads and installing lighting to block drug smuggling corridors,” Mitchell said in a statement.
The new plan puts money to Pentagon programs, including multiple military aircraft programs, at risk.