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

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

Acting secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan said in a memo to secretary of homeland security Kirstjen Nielsen that the Department of Defence had the authority to support counter-narcotics activities near global boundaries.

After Trump failed to get his full funding request for a border wall out of a month-long federal government shutdown that ended in political disaster and rejection from Congress, he declared a national emergency at the border, which allowed him to divert funds from military construction and drug forfeiture and use the Army Corps of Engineers to build the project. In addition to the emergency funds, Trump ordered the transfer of funds from the Treasury Department's forfeiture fund and the Pentagon's counterdrug activity purse.

In a significant victory for United States president Donald Trump, the money will be distributed to army engineers to plan and build a 57-mile stretch of "pedestrian fencing", roads and lighting along the border.

According to a notification the Pentagon sent to Congress, this will pay for 57 miles of "18-foot-high pedestrian fencing".

He added that the Pentagon was simply executing a "legal order from the commander-in-chief" President Donald Trump, who declared a national emergency at the border in February.

Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a formal letter to the Defense Department on Tuesday that "denies" the Pentagon request to transfer funding.

President Trump has called the situation at the southern border a "crisis" and insists a physical barrier is needed to stop criminals crossing into the US.

Democrats have already signed a letter issued to Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan in objection to the approval of funds for the wall. The move was roundly criticized and rejected by both the House and the Senate, but Trump vetoed the measure meant to block the emergency declaration.

Monday's announcement was just the first $1 billion the administration is making available for wall funding.

The Pentagon notified Congress Monday night that it has authorized the transfer of $1 billion to begin new wall construction along the US-Mexico border, drawing immediate objections from Democratic lawmakers.

The Defense Department informed Congress last week that hundreds of military construction projects may be cut or delayed to fund the wall's construction.

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