Trump administration raids military construction projects for border wall

/trump-administration-prepares-to-raid-m

  • Le #Pentagone débloque 3,6 milliards de dollars pour le mur de Trump

    Le Pentagone a annoncé mardi avoir débloqué 3,6 milliards de dollars pour financer la construction de 280 km de mur à la frontière mexicaine, à la demande du président Donald Trump.

    Pour débloquer ces fonds, le ministère américain de la #Défense a décidé de « reporter » 127 projets de construction et de modernisation des locaux militaires aux Etats-Unis et à l’étranger prévus dans son budget 2019, a indiqué à la presse un porte-parole du ministère, Jonathan Hoffman.

    Le ministre de la Défense #Mark_Esper « a décidé que ces projets de construction sont nécessaires pour soutenir l’usage des forces armées et le ministère de la Défense va donc mener 11 projets de construction militaire de barrière frontalière », a précisé M. Hoffman au cours d’un point de presse.

    « La longueur totale (...) est de 175 miles », a précisé le responsable des affaires de sécurité intérieure au Pentagone, Kenneth Rapuano. Il a précisé qu’il s’agit de renforcer des segments de barrière frontalière déjà existant mais considérés comme insuffisants, ainsi que de construire de nouveaux segments.

    Les zones considérées sont notamment situées près de #Yuma (Arizona), #El_Centro et #San_Diego (Californie), #Laredo et #El_Paso (Texas).

    Le général Andrew Poppas, directeur des opérations à l’état-major américain, a assuré que la construction de ces pans de mur frontalier permettrait de réduire le nombre des 5.000 militaires américains déployés à la frontière mexicaines à la demande de Donald Trump, qui souhaite endiguer une vague d’immigration en provenance d’Amérique latine.

    Les projets de construction militaire reportés n’ont pas été décrits à la presse, le Pentagone souhaitant informer d’abord les élus des Etats concernés par les 127 projets, mais les élus du Congrès ont très rapidement réagi à cette annonce.

    Parmi les projets affectés figure notamment un bâtiment de la prestigieuse académie militaire de West Point, a indiqué le leader des démocrates au Sénat, Chuck Schumer.

    « C’est une gifle pour les forces armées qui servent notre pays », a-t-il tweeté. Le président Donald Trump est « prêt à cannibaliser des fonds militaires déjà alloués pour satisfaire son ego et pour un mur qu’il a promis que le Mexique paierait », a-t-il ajouté.

    https://www.courrierinternational.com/depeche/le-pentagone-debloque-36-milliards-de-dollars-pour-le-mur-de-
    #murs #financement #barrières_frontalières #frontières #USA #Etats-Unis #armée

    ping @mobileborders

    • Trump administration raids military construction projects for border wall

      The move is likely to further inflame Democrats who have accused the administration of illegally overriding Congress’ spending decisions.

      The Trump administration is carrying out plans to raid $3.6 billion in military construction projects to build the border wall, further inflaming lawmakers who have accused President Donald Trump of illegally overriding Congress’ spending decisions.

      Defense Secretary Mark Esper informed congressional leaders on Tuesday of the cash grab from a total of 127 military projects. Roughly half the money will come from funds previously dedicated to upgrading military bases abroad and the other half in the United States.

      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Esper told him some of the money will come from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in his home state of New York.

      “It is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who serve our country that President 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,” Schumer said in a statement.

      Trump declared a national emergency in February in order to divert $8 billion from various federal accounts to build a physical barrier along the U.S.-Mexico border, including a Treasury Department fund and Defense Department efforts to interdict illegal drugs.

      Tuesday’s announcement comes on top of $2.5 billion the Pentagon already diverted from its budget toward the border barrier this spring over objections from leaders on the House and Senate Armed Services and Appropriations committees.

      In a letter to Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on Tuesday, Esper detailed 11 border projects on the U.S.-Mexico border that the diverted funds will now finance.

      The barriers, Esper contended, will allow military personnel that have been deployed to the border to beef up security to focus on areas that don’t have physical barriers.

      “In short, these barriers will allow DoD to provide support to DHS more efficiently and effectively,” Esper wrote. “In this respect, the contemplated construction projects are force multipliers.”

      In total, the military construction budget will fund 175 miles of border wall — a combination of new barricades and improvements to existing structures. The earliest construction could begin in about 100 days, Elaine McCusker, the Pentagon’s acting comptroller, told reporters.

      She added that the first projects are likely to begin on land owned by the military, including the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range along the border in Arizona.

      The roster of 127 projects the Pentagon is targeting to pay for the border wall has been winnowed down from a much longer list of $12.9 billion worth of projects in dozens of states, as well as several locations overseas.

      The Pentagon is expected to release a list of all impacted projects on Wednesday, after it notifies lawmakers whose districts will be affected, as well as officials in foreign countries where projects are being deferred, according to Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesperson.

      However, the military construction projects being raided do not include family housing, military barracks and projects that have already been awarded or are expected to be awarded in fiscal 2019, Hoffman said. He also added that the $1.8 billion from domestic projects will become available only when the $1.8 billion from international projects has been used up.

      Defense officials said they also hope Congress will appropriate more money to backfill the military construction projects that get cut. “The way we’re describing it is deferred. They’re definitely not canceled," McCusker said of the military construction projects being raided.

      Nevertheless, other Democrats in Congress also swiftly rebuked the decision. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who oversees military construction funding in the House, warned that the Trump administration “is about to weaken our national security by stealing billions from our military," including training for soldiers and schools for military families.

      “I reminded his Admin today that I will not support this theft from our military," Wasserman Schultz wrote on Twitter. “Trump can pander to his nativist base, but the House will fight his every attempt to make our military families or national security suffer as a result.”

      A group of Democratic senators sent a letter to Esper on Tuesday demanding more details. “We are opposed to this decision and the damage it will cause to our military and the relationship between Congress and the Department of Defense,” the senators wrote. “We also expect a full justification of how the decision to cancel was made for each project selected and why a border wall is more important to our national security and the well-being of our service members and their families than these projects.”

      In response to the news, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) also taunted Trump in a tweet, writing eight times that “Trump promised Mexico would pay” for his campaign pledge to build a border wall.

      The move is also expected to draw ire of Republicans — at least privately. Lawmakers in both parties have consistently warned the Pentagon against raiding the defense budget for a border wall — a move they fear will hurt military readiness.

      The Trump administration previously angered congressional Democrats by deploying thousands of troops to help secure the southern border.

      It’s possible some of those troops on the border could return home once the wall is erected, Army Lt. Gen. Andrew Poppas, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters. Having more effective barricades could reduce the need for military personnel to patrol those portions of the border, Hoffman added.

      But Congress isn’t the only interested party expected to put up a fight over Trump’s latest move.

      The American Civil Liberties Union said after the announcement that it plans to file a motion to block the transfer of the money. The ACLU is representing the Sierra Club and border advocates in a related federal lawsuit in California.

      “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," Dror Ladin, staff attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said in a statement.

      https://www.politico.com/story/2019/09/03/trump-administration-prepares-to-raid-military-projects-for-border-wall-14

    • Trump moving forward to divert $3.6B from military projects for border wall

      The Trump administration is moving forward with its plan to divert $3.6 billion from military construction projects, notifying congressional leaders and lawmakers whose states will be impacted by the shuffle.

      Defense Secretary Mark Esper called congressional leaders, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), on Tuesday to detail the decision to reprogram the money away from military construction projects and to the border.

      Schumer, who has projects in his home state that will be impacted, panned the decision as a “slap in the face” to members of the military.


      “The president is trying to usurp Congress’s exclusive power of the purse and loot vital funds from our military. Robbing the Defense Department of much-needed funds is an affront to our service members and Congress will strongly oppose any funds for new wall construction,” he added.

      Pelosi told House Democrats on a caucuswide conference call on Tuesday that Esper also informed her of the move earlier in the day, according to a call participant.

      “Canceling military construction projects at home and abroad will undermine our national security and the quality of life and morale of our troops, making America less secure,” Pelosi said later in a public statement.

      “The House will continue to fight this unacceptable and deeply dangerous decision in the Courts, in the Congress and in the court of public opinion, and honor our oath to protect the Constitution,” she added.

      Pentagon officials on Tuesday also confirmed that Esper approved $3.6 billion in Defense Department dollars to build 175 miles of wall on the U.S.- Mexico border, with Congress being briefed on the construction projects that will be affected by the order.

      The notification to congressional leadership comes following Trump’s declaration of a national emergency earlier this year to access more money for the border wall after Congress passed a funding bill that included only $1.35 billion for the border.

      Republicans bristled over Trump’s decision to declare the national emergency to get wall funding, but Congress was unable to override Trump’s veto of a resolution to nix the declaration. Democrats have pledged to force another vote this fall.

      As part of the declaration, Trump announced that he would reshuffle $3.6 billion from military construction projects. Republicans are promising to “back fill” the money in the upcoming government funding bills, though that requires cooperation from Democrats.

      In the meantime, roughly 127 military construction projects are being put on hold, half of which are overseas and half of which are planned U.S. projects, according to the Pentagon.

      Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker, who also spoke to reporters, said construction is expected to begin in about 135 days.

      Officials also said that the additional miles of wall to be built are expected to diminish the number of U.S. troops deployed to the border but could not give an estimate as to how many.

      Democrats immediately balked at the Pentagon’s decision to formally move forward with the reprogramming.

      Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, knocked the administration on Tuesday, saying there was “no credible reason” for diverting the funding.

      “There should be broad, bipartisan opposition to misusing defense dollars in this manner in both Congress and the courts," he added.

      “The President is robbing the men and women of our armed services of funds meant for critical construction projects that are necessary to serve our troops, support our allies, deter our adversaries, and care for our military families — all to build a wall that will do nothing to solve the humanitarian crisis at our Southwest border or protect the American people,” Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in a joint statement.

      Leahy is the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, while Durbin is the top Democrat on the Defense subcommittee and Schatz is the top Democrat on the military construction subcommittee.

      Schatz added in a subsequent tweet that “every service member, family member, and veteran should look at the list of projects he is de-funding and know that Trump thinks a wall is more important.”

      Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee sent Esper a letter on Tuesday requesting more information on the impacted projects, including how they were selected.

      “We ... expect a full justification of how the decision to cancel was made for each project selected and why a border wall is more important to our national security and the wellbeing of our service members and their families than these projects,” 10 Democrats on the panel wrote in their letter.

      https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/459800-trump-plans-to-divert-money-from-military-projects-this-week-for-bor

    • Pentagon diverts $3.6bn in funds for southern border wall

      US Secretary of Defence Mark Esper has granted $3.6bn (£3bn) in Pentagon funding to be redirected to help build a US-Mexico border wall.

      The money will fund 175 miles (280km) of construction and will force 127 military projects to be put on hold, he told lawmakers in a letter on Tuesday.

      Building a border wall was a major campaign pledge of President Trump but it has faced significant opposition.

      Tough action on immigration also forms a central part of his re-election bid.

      Mr Esper’s letter did not use the term “wall” but the border barriers described are likely to be cited by Mr Trump as evidence of progress as he gears up for the vote in 2020.

      Last July, the Supreme Court handed Mr Trump a victory in a related case, saying that the national emergency he issued in February allowed him the power to use $2.5bn in defence funds for wall construction while the matter proceeds in courts.

      In a letter sent to several congressional committees, the Department of Defense identified the 127 military construction projects worldwide that stand to lose funding on behalf of the border wall.

      Democrats argue that by diverting funds to the wall, the Trump administration is attempting to circumvent Congress’ role in making budgets for government agencies.

      Democrat Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said it showed Mr Trump “is willing to cannibalise already allocated military funding to boost his own ego and for a wall he promised Mexico would pay to build”.

      The American Civil Liberties Union promised to seek a court order to block “the president’s abuse of emergency powers to secure funds for a wall Congress denied”.

      Donald Trump promised to use military construction money to fund his long-promised Mexican border wall. Now that order is being recorded on paper and put into action.

      That may cause some political difficulties for the president, but it’s clear he believes the potential damage from not following through on his 2016 border-wall campaign pledge - even if the funds are coming from US taxpayers, not Mexico - is greater than the risk of disgruntled constituents and interested parties.

      It wasn’t too long ago that border walling was a non-controversial proposition, tucked into larger spending legislation. That was before Donald Trump made it the most visible embodiment of his immigration policies, however.

      Mr Trump has already tweeted aerial video of new border wall construction (technically, just replacement barriers). His goal is to have even more footage to point to - and, perhaps, stand smiling alongside - as his 2020 presidential re-election campaign picks up steam.
      What is being defunded?

      In a letter released on Wednesday evening, first reported by The Daily Beast, Mr Esper identifies 127 projects that stand to lose funding at the expense of the border wall.

      This list includes projects across 23 US states, three US territories and 20 countries. More than $1bn in mainland projects - with a wide array of purposes -will likely be shelved, including $40m to update hazardous waste storage in Virginia and $95m for an engineering centre in New York.

      Nearly $700m will be diverted from projects in US territories Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam. Of these Puerto Rico will be hit hardest: the island stands to lose $400m worth of planned projects.

      Approximately $770m will be taken from projects across Europe, directed at helping allied countries deter a possible attack from Russia.

      Nine projects overall affect the renovation and replacement of schools for children on US military bases across the world.

      According to the Pentagon, the affected projects have not been cancelled outright but have been “deferred”.

      For the projects to be resumed, however, Congress must agree to do so in its annual defence policy bill. If Congress fails to do so, they will be stuck in legislative limbo and effectively defunded.

      https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-49574441