By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge
What was already a bad week for Democrats just got worse.
Not only did AG Barr embarrass party leaders like Adam Schiff, as well as their allies in the cable news media, when he revealed that Robert Mueller’s nearly two-year investigation into the Trump campaign had turned up zero evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, but now, despite a spate of lawsuits and bipartisan resistance in Congress, Trump has received the first tranche of Pentagon funds that will be used to build more than 230 miles of the border wall – helping to fulfill one of his most popular campaign promises.
According to CNN, the Pentagon notified Congress Monday night that it had authorized $1 billion to begin construction of a new segment of the wall along the US-Mexico border. The notification elicited a wave of outrage from Democratic lawmakers.
The approved money will help build 57 miles of border fencing, improved roads, and other measures. Construction is expected to begin immediately.
Pentagon budget reprogramming notification sent to Capitol Hill on Monday and obtained by CNN indicates that up to $1 billion will go toward building 57 miles of fencing, improving roads and other measures on the southern border.
The Department of Defense authorized the Army Corp of Engineers to begin planning and construction for the project Monday night. The department will direct the funds toward 18-foot-high fencing along the Yuma and El Paso sections of the border, according to a letter acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan sent to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.
The money is part of about $2.5 billion from the Defense Department’s drug-interdiction program authorized by Trump’s emergency order. All told, the order reappropriated (Trump’s opponents would say ‘raided’) some $7 billion from various sources, which will instead be used for the wall.
Monday’s announcement was just the first $1 billion the administration is making available for wall funding. The administration said previously it plans to shift an additional $1.5 billion at some point in the future.
These initial counterdrug funds will ultimately flow from the Department of Homeland Security to the Army Corps of Engineers to begin construction.
Democratic members of the Senate Appropriations Committee objected to the transfer in a strongly worded letter.
Every Democratic senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies signed on to a letter written to Shanahan objecting to moving $1 billion in personnel funds to counter drug funds to go toward the wall. The senators say the Pentagon did not seek permission before notifying the committee of the transfer.
“We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defense appropriation itself,” the senators wrote.
“As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military.”
The letter was signed by Sens. Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont; Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois; Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island; Brian Schatz, Democrat of Hawaii; Jon Tester, Democrat of Montana; Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington; Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut; Tammy Baldwin, Democrat of Wisconsin; Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California; and Tom Udall, Democrat of New Mexico.
Unfortunately for them, that’s about all they can do, now that Trump has vetoed a resolution to terminate the emergency order.
Obama administration under fire over Mueller report
Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., on President Trump’s efforts to build a border wall, the push for immigration reform and the fallout from the Mueller report findings. Video: Fox Business
Live 26th. March: Secretary of Defense answers questions on border wall funding