New Wrench In Trump’s Wall: Acting Defense Secretary not decided yet on necessity of border wall

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.

According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.

“We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates,” Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.

“Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions,” Shanahan said.

He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it on Sunday.

Officials have said that the administration had found nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.

The official said that based on the initial analysis, Shanahan was likely to approve the $3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.

Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.

“I am not required to do anything,” he said.

Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.

Poor standards of military housing were highlighted by recent Reuters reporting, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.

“All of this money has been assigned for other purposes, so it really then comes down to what are you going to trade off,” he said.

The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration.

Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners.

“We are following the law, using the rules and we’re not bending the rules,” Shanahan said.

<bTrump Says He Plans to Use ‘Very, Very Small Amount’ of DoD Budget to Build Wall</b

(CNSNews.com) – President Donald Trump said Friday that he is planning to use billions of dollars from the Defense Department budget to build the wall, but it’s only a “very, very small amount” compared to the overall military budget.

During a Rose Garden ceremony announcing that he plans to sign an emergency order to fund the wall, Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts said, “A lot of the money that goes to count toward your $8 billion is money that’s being reprogrammed in the DOD budget. “How can you guarantee to military families and to our men and women of the military that none of the money that would be reprogrammed to a wall will take away from other technology, other renovations, construction that is desperately needed in our military?” Roberts asked the president. Trump said some of the funds that’s been given to the military has yet to be allocated, and some generals thinking building the wall is more important. “So, John, we had certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military. Some of them haven’t been allocated yet, and some of the generals think that this is more important. I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for. I said, ‘What were you going to use it for?’ And I won’t go into details, but it didn’t sound too important to me,” Trump said. “Plus, if you think, I’ve gotten $700 billion for the military in year one, and then last year, $716 billion, and we’re rebuilding our military, but we have a lot, and under the previous administration, our military was depleted — badly depleted – and they weren’t spending — I mean, they had a much less — they had a much smaller amount of money,” he said. “So when I got $700 billion, and then $716 billion — and this year, it’s going to be pretty big too, because there’s few things more important than our military. You know, I’m a big deficit believer and all of that, but before we really start focusing on certain things, we have to build up our military. It was very badly depleted, and we’re buying all new jet fighters, all new missiles, all new defensive equipment. We have — we’ll soon have a military like we’ve never had before,” the president said. “But when you think about the kind of numbers you’re talking about — so you have $700 billion, $716 billion — when I need $2 billion, $3 billion of out that for a wall — which is a very important instrument, very important for the military because of the drugs that pour in,” Trump said.

Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters prior to the Rose Garden event that the president will have access to ‘roughly $8 billion worth of money that can be used to secure the southern border.” Mulvaney explained that in addition to the $1.375 billion that Congress has allocated from the border security compromise, which Trump will sign into law later Friday or Saturday, the president “has access to roughly $600 million to the Treasury Forfeiture Fund.” “He has access to additional funds of money through Title 10, Section 284. This is counter-drug activities within the Department of Defense. While the amount varies, the amount that we intend to draw down from that account is roughly $2.5 billion. That includes some reprogramming from other Defense Department accounts into the 284 account,” Mulvaney said. “And then lastly, the second military account is the Title 10, Section 2808, which is military construction. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that the president, under certain circumstances, has the right to use military construction dollars in order to build things to help defend the nation. That’s roughly $3.6 billion. That total is roughly $8 billion. That’s it,” he said. Mulvaney said the president’s plan will not involve taking away Puerto Rico’s or Texas’s disaster relief funds. Office of Management and Budget (OMD) Acting Director Russell Vought pointed out that it’s “common authority” for the president to declare a national emergency. In fact, a national emergency has been declared 58 times since 1976, and 31 of them are still in effect. “These have been used for everything from preventing the importation of uncut drugs in Sierra Leone to blocking assets for drug narcotics traffickers. So this is something that we really want to stress is: Appropriated dollars from Congress that is simply being used to be reprogrammed to other uses,’ Vought said. “Every appropriations bill that you look at has some degree of reprogramming in it. This is using types of reprogramming authorities that are present, and, in this case, the ability to use money under 2808 to tap the military construction plan. So we think this is something that will give us … the necessary funding to be able to execute the wall in a timely manner,” he said. During Trump’s remarks on the humanitarian crisis at the border Friday, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Trump what he says to those – including some Republican allies – that he’s violating the Constitution by declaring a national emergency on the border and setting a bad precedent that will be abused possibly by Democratic presidents in the future. “Well, not too many people. Yeah. Not too many people have said that, but the courts will determine that. Look, I expect to be sued. I shouldn’t be sued. Very rarely do you get sued when you do national emergency, and then other people say, ‘Oh, if you use it for this, now what are we using it for?’” We got to get rid of drugs and gangs and people. It’s an invasion,” Trump said. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country that we stop, but it’s very hard to stop. With a wall, it would be very easy. So I think that we will be very successful in court. I think it’s clear, and the people that say we create precedent — well, what do you have? Fifty-six? There are a lot of times — well, that’s creating precedent, and many of those are far less important than having a border,” he added. The president said without a border, “you don’t have a country.” “You know, we fight — before I got here — we fight all over the world to create borders for countries, but we don’t create a border for our own country. So I think what will happen is, sadly, we’ll be sued, and sadly, it’ll go through a process, and, happily, we’ll win — I think,”

<bActing Pentagon chief not decided yet on funding border wall</b

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – Acting U.S. Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said on Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used.

President Donald Trump on Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Shanahan was likely to approve the $3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.

By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.

According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.

“We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates,” Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East and Europe.

“Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions,” Shanahan said.

He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it on Sunday.

Officials have said that the administration had found nearly $7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.

The U.S. defense official said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.

Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.

“I am not required to do anything,” he said.

Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.

Poor standards of military housing were highlighted by recent Reuters reporting, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.

“Military housing, what’s been interesting- I’ve received a number of letters, I’ve had lots of feedback, do not jeopardize projects that are underway,” Shanahan said.

“As we step our way through the process we’ll use good judgment,” Shanahan said.

The Republican president’s move, circumventing Congress, seeks to make good on a 2016 presidential campaign pledge to build a border wall that Trump insists is necessary to curtail illegal immigration.

Within hours, the action was challenged in a lawsuit filed on behalf of three Texas landowners.

“We are following the law, using the rules and we’re not bending the rules,” Shanahan said.

<bWhy Does Trump Still Want the Wall So Badly?</b

As Donald Trump plunges the country into yet another constitutional crisis by declaring a national emergency to secure border wall funding, it’s worth asking why he cares so much about the wall.

Multiple competing and overlapping explanations come to mind, each with its own alarming implication.

My own favored explanation has consistently been that the president is in thrall to the cult of Fox News and the conservative media establishment in general. Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter would be furious if Trump doesn’t follow through on building the wall, and Trump doesn’t want to disappoint them not only because his base hangs on their every word, but because he genuinely admires them. He gets his information from Fox News rather than his own intelligence community, and is as eager to please them as any religious acolyte is to placate their priest, pastor or leader.

The challenge to that thesis, however, is that these conservative personalities will generally either defend Trump regardless, or present themselves as unhappy regardless. Ann Coulter will never be happy until every single brown person is exiled from America, and the likes of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh will twists themselves into pretzels to defend the president almost regardless of what he does. The base constituency that Trump seems to eager to please is already with him and isn’t likely to abandon him. So why not secure a bit of funding, declare victory and see who salutes the flag–since most of the conservative infotainment complex will in fact march along dutifully regardless?

Another explanation is that Trump genuinely wants to keep the promise that was central to his campaign. After all, the slogan of Trump’s 2020 presidential campaign is “Promises Made, Promises Kept,” and there is no bigger promise than his “big, beautiful wall.”

But there are multiple problems with this theory, too. First, Trump has abandoned many of his other important campaign promises, from better, cheaper healthcare to infrastructure to taxing hedge fund managers and bringing jobs back from overseas. Second, he could always secure a smaller amount of border wall funding and tell his base that the wall is being built slowly but surely; the lag between funding and construction time would be more than enough to tide him over until the 2020 general election.

But third and most importantly, rhetoric of resistance notwithstanding, there is almost certainly a deal that Democrats would be willing to accept in exchange for giving Trump funding for the wall. Indeed, Democrats already offered significantly greater wall funding in exchange for permanent protections for DACA recipients. Notably, protecting DACA recipients was also one of Donald Trump’s campaign promises.  If all Trump cared about was fulfilling his promises, he could easily have done so. He could still do so, though the price Democrats would exact in exchange would be significantly higher than before the 2018 midterm. Failure to keep his promises, then, amounts to breathtaking political incompetence.

The third explanation is that Trump genuinely believes that the wall is essential to secure the southern border. This is perhaps the most alarming of the options. Most analysts tend to treat Trump’s grandiose declarations about the supposed necessity of the wall and dangers from drugs and criminals as just so much fearmongering. After all, none of the crime data support Trump’s panicky rhetoric, and every major expert knows that a wall will do essentially nothing to deter drug imports, as most are smuggled through known ports of entry. Part of the challenge for conservatives is that while the wall has dominated so much of the discourse, it would actually have very little impact on the issues that conservatives actually care about with regard to immigration, be it crime or demographic change.

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