Donald Trump says border wall being built 'very rapidly'

Pentagon approves billions to build Trump’s border wall with Mexico

Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of NY railed against upcoming plans to shift $3.6 billion from military projects at home and overseas in order to fund President Donald Trump's wall at the US-Mexico border.

About half of the US$3.6 billion will come from projects within the United States and its territories; the other half will come from construction projects the USA military was planning to carry out in foreign countries.

"Defense Secretary Mark Esper called Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday to detail the cash grab, explaining that about half of the funding will come from military construction projects outside the United States and half will come from projects within the country", Politico reported.

They say his use of obscure laws to get around Congress' sole authority to allocate money from the federal budget opens the door to subsequent presidents doing an end-run around Congress when lawmakers refuse to fund their projects. So far, the transferred funds include $600 million from the Treasury Department's asset forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from Defense Department anti-drug activities and the $3.6 billion just approved by Esper, according to the Associated Press. The construction will involve either replacing existing barriers or reinforcing them on Defense Department or other federal land, and private property.

Rubio was one of 12 Republican senators who voted to unsuccessfully block Trump's national emergency declaration in March, a move that lets Trump divert military construction funds to pay for the wall.

Jack Reed, D-R.I., said Trump was attempting to take power away from Congress by moving Pentagon funds to pay for parts of the border wall - the building of which has been a central theme of his campaign and presidency. "Congress appropriated these funds for specific military construction projects, and that's how the funds should be used".

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A Pentagon official said in a briefing that the department was given a "lawful order" by Trump to divert the funds. If they are backfilled in the coming year's budget, some could proceed without delay, because the Pentagon deliberately chose projects with contract award dates scheduled for future years.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon said the first US$1.8 billion would come from projects outside the United States, followed by projects inside the country.

Esper said in a letter to congressional leadership that military housing projects will not be affected.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday that it would seek a court order blocking use of the funds as part of its lawsuit challenging the president's abuse of emergency powers to secure funds Congress had denied. It sued earlier over the use of Defense Department counterdrug money, but the Supreme Court lifted a spending freeze on that money in July, allowing the first Pentagon-funded wall project to break ground last month in Arizona.

Lt. Gen. Andrew W. Poppas, director of operations, J-3, Joint Staff, says "we do" expect to be able to reduce some of the troops assigned to the border mission with the construction of these barriers but would not say by how much.

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