2019-05-13 19:19:531 Oct 2018 01:53 AM EST
By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Patrick Shanahan (Image source: Public domain)
Earlier this year, after a long, protracted fight over funding for Donald Trump's long sought-after border wall, he made a money grab and issued a national emergency at the border so that he could do so without the blessings of Congress, as they could only agree on giving him a much smaller amount in funding than what he was saying he needed.
He declared the emergency, took the money being offered by Congress, then took more money out of the Defense Department pocket.
There have been questions of whether it would leave Defense short, despite Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan claiming there will be no negative effect on military readiness.
Previously, administration officials stated that the money Trump took for the border wall could have been purposed by other unfunded military projects.
The Defense Department released a document that explains the Pentagon will shift $1.5 billion from programs that include a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile system and a plane that provides surveillance and communications to fighter jets while in the air.
"The Department carefully selected sources for the reprogramming that are excess or early to need and will not adversely affect military preparedness," read the document.
Congressional Democrats are upset with the reprogramming, mostly because they don't like the administration bypassing their authority to allocate funding just to pay for something Trump has had on his bucket list for some time. The Pentagon tried to justify the move by shifting funding to a counterdrug effort for the Defense Department.
"We look forward to hearing your views on how you intend to repair the damaged relationship between the defense oversight committees and the Department," wrote several senators in a Friday letter to the Pentagon. This included Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL).
The Pentagon said in a statement that "the funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes, and revised requirements," though they didn't mention specifics.
This $1.5 billion is being added to the prior $1 billion meant for Army personnel that the Pentagon agreed to earmark for the border wall and $3.6 billion in military construction projects that will be delayed while the wall is built.
Minuteman III is the ballistic missile program being affected. The Air Force claims the ground infrastructure is facing a necessary update. They are "slightly" delaying the plan to upgrade its control center, according to the Defense document.
Money will be taken as well from the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) program and given to the wall. AWACS planes transmit messages through a large antenna array on the plane to strike aircraft.
This program is also "slightly delayed," which allows the Pentagon the time to find the money for it somewhere else. The document does not detail what the delay is, but Bloomberg News reported that last year the Air Force terminated its contract with Boeing after finding out about delays in hardware and software development.
Money earmarked for a "space test experiment" to involve the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) will be programmed as well, the document notes without explanation.
"We expect this type of thing to happen due to the innovative nature of DARPA's work," claims the document.
Additional money will be taken from two funds for "Overseas Contingency Operations." This money usually funds war efforts. It's coming from a fund that supports coalition forces as well as a fund that assists the Afghan military.
Funding will also be taken from the Blended Retirement System that debuted early last year but hasn't been very popular and from the Defense Department's negotiated savings on air-launch cruise and Hellfire missiles.
The Associated Press published estimates for some of these projects that are losing their money. The largest chunk of money is coming from the money for Afghan and coalition forces. That amounts to $604 million.
$251 million is coming from a project that destroys chemical munitions. The Pentagon documents claim this was earmarked for a loss because "funds previously added to the program to prevent delays are no longer needed."
$344 million makes up the loss to Air Force programs, and money from the retirement system leads to another $224 million.
With so much money being taken from so many different sources in the Defense Department, it appears that it took a great effort to find this money to fulfill Trump's promise.
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