President Donald Trump is planning to pull $3.6 billion from military projects to fund further construction of a border wall in a controversial move drawing criticism from Congress and other lawmakers.
Politico reports that Defense Secretary Mark Esper told congressional leaders of the plan Sept. 3. It would pull funding from 128 military construction projects, half of which were meant to upgrade military bases abroad, and the other half to upgrade those in the U.S.
The plan is meant to construct 175 miles of wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to curtail immigration, an undertaking that Trump has carried from the campaign trail into his presidency.
Trump first announced his plans to pull funds from the military back in February when he declared a national emergency to allocate about $8 billion to further construct the wall and additional border security measures.
On Sept. 4, the Pentagon released a full list of projects that would lose funding, affecting bases across the world. U.S. territories will lose $6.87 million in funding, states will lose nearly $1.1 billion, and military bases in different countries will lose more than $1.8 billion. Politico reports, however, that Pentagon officials say the projects are not canceled, just deferred indefinitely until funding is replenished.
The funds will be used to construct 11 sections of border wall, including: two in San Diego, California; two in El Centro, California; four in Yuma County, Arizona; two in El Paso, Texas; and one in Laredo, Texas.
The announcement has drawn criticism from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers.
“It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that [Trump] is willing to cannibalize already allocated military funding to boost his own ego, and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter after the announcement.
Some on Twitter, however, voiced their support for the fund re-allocation.
“As a veteran, [it’s] the opposite of a slap in the face. Soldiers defend our country and want our country secure. We need secure borders,” one Twitter user says in response to Schumer.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) says it plans to seek a court order to block use of the funds “as part of its lawsuit challenging the president’s abuse of emergency powers to secure funds for aw all Congress denied,” the organization says on its website.
“The fact that the government sat on these so-called ‘emergency funds’ for seven months further confirms that this is nothing but an unlawful power grab. We’ll be back in court very soon to block Trump’s latest effort to raid military funds for his xenophobic wall,” says Dror Ladin, the staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, in a news release.