Details of where the Trump administration will get billions of dollars to pay for the president’s border wall are slowly beginning to make their way to the public, but still are not making much sense.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday delivered to Congress a list of military projects that would be impacted by Trump’s national emergency declaration. The projects include a hangar for drones at a base in South Korea and a wastewater treatment plant at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Funding will also be siphoned away from facilities that affect everyday life on domestic and international U.S. military bases, including dining halls, medical facilities, and roads.
The funding from these military projects will total roughly $3.6 billion. But Shanahan’s list doesn’t account for an additional $2.5 billion in funding that Trump requested to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In his emergency declaration last month, Trump announced that in addition to diverting money from the military reconstruction budget, he would also take $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s counter-drug funding. But as The Washington Post reported, the counter-drug account currently has less than $100 million in it. This leaves the Pentagon the task of finding more projects to cut funding from and moving that money into the budget for the wall. There still isn’t clarity on where that money will be coming from.
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who sits on the Senate Armed Services committee, said in a statement that Trump “is putting his border wall ahead of the safety of our troops.”
“The projects that could lose funding include military training centers in Virginia, a plant to prevent water contamination at Camp Lejeune, and a cybersecurity facility in Georgia,” he said. “I hope my colleagues in Congress will take a serious look at the projects that support our military in their own states and then vote to override the president’s veto.”
Additionally, siphoning counter-drug funding from the Pentagon would do very little to actually stop drugs from crossing the U.S.- Mexico border. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, most drugs come through vehicles by legal ports of entry.
In recent weeks, some of CBP’s largest drug seizures have occurred at ports not located on the southern border. Nineteen million dollars’ worth of cocaine was discovered at a seaport in Savannah, Georgia last month, while 100 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the Port of Philadelphia the month prior.
While Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget Russell Vought has stated that the money pooled from military projects will contribute to the “full completion” of the wall, the president’s own administration has estimated that its total cost will be far higher. The White House requested $8.6 billion in funding from Congress for the 2020 fiscal year to help pay for the border wall, but the Department of Homeland Security has estimated that the wall could wind up costing $22 billion. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have warned of a $70 billion sticker price.
Congress voted to reject Trump’s national emergency declaration, but the president used his first veto on the legislation last week.
Despite both the record-long shutdown over border wall funding and the national emergency declaration, a single new linear mile of border wall has yet to be constructed. The existing 694 miles were all constructed by Trump’s predecessors.