The Defense Department told Congress Monday that it has authorized the transfer of $1 billion to build 57 miles of President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall, CNN reports.
In a budget reprogramming notification sent to Congress, the Pentagon said that it has authorized the Army Corp of Engineers to begin planning the construction, with up to $1 billion going toward building 57 miles of border fencing as well as repairs and improvements of infrastructure along the border.
Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a letter that the funds would go toward 18-foot fences along the border near Yuma and El Paso.
The move comes after Trump declared a national emergency in February, allowing him to funnel billions in funds allocated for other programs toward his proposed wall.
The funds the Pentagon is moving were intended for counterdrug efforts.
Democrats condemn move:
Every Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies signed a letter to Shanahan condemning the move.
"We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defense appropriation itself," the letter said.
"As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military,” the senators told Shanahan.