Whether or not President Trump will declare a national emergency to fund the proposed border wall is still unclear, an increasing number of lawmakers are expressing their opposition to the president dipping into funds meant for Pentagon construction projects to do it.
Before entering a meeting with Mr. Trump on Capitol Hill Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said Wednesday that using defense money for the wall “would not be the preferred route,” Defense News reported. “I’m hoping we don’t have to do that and Congress could find a solution,” he said.
Following a discussion with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan about the potential move, Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin, Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, tweeted that “[u]sing DoD funds to pay for the wall, when Congress was never asked to approve of such a plan, is a major breach of relations between DoD and the oversight committees.”
Mr. Durbin said he cautioned Mr. Shanahan “if President Trump directs [the Defense Department] to circumvent Congress in such a legally dubious way on such a major issue, Congress will have to reevaluate its relationship with the department and judge whether each instance of broad flexibility granted to the department is worth the risk of abuse by President Trump.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe said he believes Mr. Trump may declare a national emergency which would sidestep the need for congressional approval before digging in to the Pentagon’s funds. “I think we could fight it, but I wouldn’t want us to do that because of [the president’s] out of options and I want to get this issue behind us,” he said.
When asked about his opinion of rerouting the funds to pay for the wall, Mr. Inhofe told Defense News, “I don’t want that. However, if he were to declare an emergency, we may be in a position where we don’t have a choice.”
Earlier this week Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said funding the border wall was “not the responsibility of the Department of Defense.”
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