Pentagon authorises $1 bn for Trump’s border wall

Washington DC [USA]: The Pentagon on Monday (local time) notified the US Congress that it authorised the transfer of USD 1 billion for building a barricade along the US-Mexico border, which was a long-standing demand by President Donald Trump.

According to a notification, around USD 1 billion will go towards building 57 miles (around 92 km) of fencing, improving road infrastructure and other security measures at the border, CNN reported.

The Defence Department authorised the Army Corp of Engineers (part of the department) to commence the planning and construction for the barricade from Monday night. Funds will be directed towards fencing with a height of 18-foot (around 5.5 metres) along the Yuma and El Paso sections of the US-Mexico border, a letter written by acting Secretary of Defence Patrick Shanahan to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen stated.

However, the move has left the Senate Democrats fuming, asserting that the Pentagon did not seek permission before notifying the Senate Appropriations Committee about the transfer of the funds.

“We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defence committees and in violation of provisions in the defence appropriation itself. As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military,” the Senate Democrats wrote in a letter.

The letter was signed by Senators Patrick Leahy (Vermont), Dick Durbin (Illinois), Jack Reed (Rhode Island), Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Jon Tester (Montana) Patty Murray (Washington), Chris Murphy (Connecticut), Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin), Dianne Feinstein (California) and Tom Udall (New Mexico).

On February 15, Trump had declared a national emergency to bypass Congress and fulfill his long-pending demand of building the wall along the border with Mexico.

Defending his move, the US President asserted that he had “no choice” but to use his emergency powers to stop illegal immigrants spreading crime and drugs.

On March 14, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to disapprove the emergency declaration by 59 votes to 41, in what was a sharp rebuke to Trump. The resolution was already passed in the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives by 245 votes to 182 last month, with 13 Republicans supporting the Democrats.

Minutes after the vote, Trump tweeted in capitals, “VETO!”, an indication that he would reject the resolution.
Subsequently, the US President issued his first veto rejecting as “dangerous” and “reckless” congressional resolution of his emergency declaration and asserted that Americans would be “put at risk” at the southern border with Mexico if the measure became a law.

Trump vetoed a resolution of disapproval of his emergency declaration, which was declared to get his wall funded and built along the US-Mexico border.

It was the first time that Trump used his veto power to block a legislation.