(Español) At the end of March, the Department of Defense made its move to reallocate $1 billion in funding from the military personnel account to the construction of a 57-mile fence along the southern border. According to a spokesperson with the Department of Defense, the funds were available because some of the service branches fell short of recruiting goals. Despite the reallocation, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan this shift will not interfere with military readiness, which include plans for modernizations. The $1 billion at issue is part of the Department of Defense’s overall $717 billion budget. Should the funds be successfully diverted, it will almost double the funds appropriated by Congress for the wall at the southern border. Last year, Congress approved $1.3 billion out of the president’s requested $5.7 billion for construction of a wall.
Despite the Pentagon’s attempt to reallocate the funds to the wall, members of Congress remain apprehensive about legal ability to do so. With the president declaring the national emergency, and vetoing Congress’s override of the declaration, the Pentagon says they have the authority to shift the funds based on their need to combat drug smuggling across the southern border. Regardless, Democrats in Congress have rebutted citing the lack of sufficient evidence of a true crisis at the border and acknowledged the dangerous precedent such a declaration would cause.
Additionally, members of Congress have said this new standard goes against the Pentagon’s reallocation agreement with Congress and threatens this deal for the future. The major, bipartisan issue at stake with the budget reallocation is the notion of attempting to politicize the military through what is widely seen as a political act by building the wall along the southern border. Despite Congress’s disapproval of the reallocations, the Department of Defense is attempting to move forward with a form of reallocation or another for the wall.