[guest post by Dana]
Clearly not Mexico…
According to this report, the Trump administration is going to take $3.6 billion in military construction projects to build the border wall:
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.
This is a continuation of pulling money from different resources to fund Trump’s border wall:
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.
The big picture:
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.
Note: “…the 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.”
It’s ironic to raid the defense budget for a border wall, no? Especially as Trump has repeatedly promised voters that Mexico would pay for one hundred percent of it:
Of course Trump is desperate to get moving on all manner of border security. He promised a big, beautiful wall in 2016, and he is still trying to deliver. With a new campaign in swing, and border security still a central plank, the need to make serious progress on it becomes even more critical.
Interestingly, Brian Kilmeade of Fox News and Friends made a surprising admission this morning about Trump promising voters that Mexico would pay for the wall:
Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade admitted on Thursday morning that President Donald Trump “never should have said” Mexico would pay for his border wall, a promise he made constantly during his 2016 campaign.
During a segment about backlash to the Trump administration using Pentagon money to fund the project, Kilmeade first attempted to highlight the hypocrisy of “the people that could not care less, as President Obama’s administration starved the military year after year and watched it rot away.”
But then he pivoted to the “sensationalist headlines” over the move, including one from The Daily Beast that read, “Trump Raids Elementary Schools to Pay for Wall; Mexico Off Hook.”
“He’s right,” Kilmeade said in response to that headline—though it’s unclear who he meant by “he” in that sentence. “The president never should have said Mexico was going to pay for the wall, though he says they’re going to get it in fees at border crossings.”
Amusingly, just last week, President Trump praised Kilmeade’s performance on the job. This came after Trump’s recent denouncement of Fox News:
“You’re a solid, I used to say, you’re a solid six or maybe seven,” Trump said. “But you’re getting much better. You’re getting great.”
Just counting down the minutes until Trump takes back everything he said about Kilmeade in a Twitter rant, and throws him in the Fox doghouse with the other Fox losers who have drawn the President’s ire for their disloyalty. After he’s done tweeting about Alabama and the damn map, that is…
P.S. Trump said today that the administration is projecting that 500 miles of border wall will be completed by the end of next year (just after the election). In spite of Mexico not paying for it, 500 more miles of wall will certainly go a long way to appease Trump’s base and border hawks.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)