Diversion of $1B to Border Wall Could Impact Future Budget Flexibility

Diversion of $1B to Border Wall Could Impact Future Budget Flexibility

Lawmakers warned Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan that Congress may limit DOD’s future flexibility in moving its funding between budgets following DOD’s decision to reprogram $1 billion of military personnel funding to spend on a U.S.-Mexico border wall without asking Congress first.

The Pentagon notified Congress of the funding shift late Monday. The money comes from the recruitment budget of the Army, which did not use all its appropriated funding after falling short of its recruitment targets. It is being funneled to the Department of Homeland Security through DOD’s counterdrug account.

The result of not asking Congress first “is likely that the Appropriations Committee in particular will no longer give the Pentagon reprogramming authority,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told Shanahan at a hearing Tuesday. “And I think that’s unfortunate, because you need it.”

Shanahan said that was weighed as a risk even before the president declared the national emergency directing construction of a border wall.

Smith and other Democrats are trying to block the $1 billion move, as Military Times reported.

DOD will also be taking money from some military construction projects that have not yet been awarded, “but we don’t know what the next increment of funding will look like,” Shanahan said.

 

Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class TaWanna Starks

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