Biden takes back border wall funds Trump stole from the military

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'Trump's abuse of power is pervasive and it's hurting military families,' a veteran said of the redirecting of military funds for the border wall.

President Joe Biden is returning money to the Pentagon that his predecessor Donald Trump swiped from the Department of Defense to fund the ineffective U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The Pentagon announced on Friday its plans to give back unused border wall funds to the military, where they were originally meant to pay for critical initiatives.

"The Department of Defense is proceeding with canceling all border barrier construction projects paid for with funds originally intended for other military missions and functions such as schools for military children, overseas military construction projects in partner nations, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account," Deputy Pentagon spokesperson Jamal Brown said in a statement.

He continued: "DOD has begun taking all necessary actions to cancel border barrier projects and to coordinate with interagency partners. Today's action reflects this Administration's continued commitment to defending our nation and supporting our service members and their families."

As Reuters noted, several billions of dollars of military funding are likely to be restored.

In 2019, Trump declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border in order to redirect military funds for a wall thereafter and throughout his administration.

In May 2019, the Pentagon announced that it would divert $1.5 billion for the 80 miles of the border wall. But the funds were intended to provide $604 million for the Afghan Security Forces Fund to support the Afghan army's fight against the Taliban, $251 million for a chemical weapons destruction project, $344 million for Air Force programs, and $224 million for a military retirement system.

In September 2019, $3.6 billion from the Pentagon that would fund 51 military projects were instead reallocated to Trump's border wall. A child care center at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland that suffered sewage backups, $30 million in updates to Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and half a billion dollars for schools on military bases for service members' children, were among the critical projects that the Trump administration chose the wall over.

On top of the already exorbitant amount of money redirected from the military, in January 2020, the Trump administration planned to divert $7.2 billion more.

Trump's actions prompted backlash from veterans and lawmakers, including Texas GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry.

In February 2020, after Trump told Congress he planned to redirect $3.8 billion from the Defense Department's budget for the border wall, Thornberry, the then-top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said, "The wall should be funded, but the funding must come through the Department of Homeland Security rather than diverting critical military resources that are needed and in law."

The Democratic chair of the same committee, Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), condemned Trump's move, tweeting then: "the President is obsessed with fulfilling a campaign promise at the expense of our national security. This admin has already stolen billions from the DoD for the President's vanity wall, and today they are doubling down."

"Trump's abuse of power is pervasive and it's hurting military families," Veteran Will Goodwin, director of government relations for VoteVets, wrote on social media, adding, "His fake national emergency, to steal money from military projects to pay for his racist vanity wall, is a clear abuse of his power."

Despite Biden returning crucial funding to the Pentagon to fortify national security and fund originally planned military projects, Republicans continue to speak about the issue within the narrow context of the U.S.-Mexico border, spreading false and misleading statements about how the president is harming national security.

Rep. Jason Smith (MO) tweeted on April 29, ".@POTUS’s decision to withhold border wall funding along with other actions his Administration has taken have fueled a national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border."

"Having a secure, defined border is important to our national security," tweeted Idaho Sen. Jim Risch on April 30.

"Border security is national security," tweeted Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson on May 2.

But experts across the board have said the border wall would not effectively curb unlawful immigration. 

Published with The American Independent Foundation.