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Republican who voted for Trump to use defense funds for wall is mad he's doing it again

Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry says Trump’s raids on Pentagon appropriations are unconstitutional even though he voted to let Trump do it before.

By Josh Israel - February 14, 2020
Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX)

Texas Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, is attacking the Trump administration’s plan to divert $3.8 billion in military funds to pay for a border wall and urging Congress to intervene.

“Congress has the constitutional responsibility to determine how defense dollars are spent,” Thornberry said in a statement Thursday. “The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action.”

But last year, when the administration did the same thing, he helped block bipartisan efforts to stop it. A resolution passed by both the House and Senate, which Donald Trump vetoed, would have taken away the “emergency” power Trump has cited to justify his actions by simply ending the “emergency,” but Thornberry repeatedly voted against it.

In 2019, Trump had failed to deliver on his campaign promise of making Mexico pay for a border wall and also failed to convince Congress to bankroll the effort. So he announced that he would simply take the money from other programs, claiming that he could do so because there was a “national emergency.” He took $3.6 billion that had been slated to go to military schools and other priorities.

Thornberry said at the time he was against Trump’s maneuver. But when bipartisan majorities in both chambers voted to terminate the emergency, he refused to join.

Instead, he blamed Democrats, calling the resolution “another step into partisan politics.”

He added that he was “eager to work with my colleagues on additional measures to keep any Administration from using DOD funds for purposes other than what Congress intended.” But when Armed Services chair Adam Smith tried last June to put language in the defense bill to ensure none of the money would be diverted for the wall, Thornberry led the opposition.

Had he and his Republican colleagues not blocked these efforts, the funding theft might no longer be an issue. But now Thornberry is claiming that Trump’s moving the money “undermines the principle of civilian control of the military and is in violation of the separation of powers within the Constitution,” and is vowing to work with his colleagues to “determine the appropriates steps to take.”

A spokesperson for Thornberry did not immediately respond to an inquiry about why he did not back previous efforts to stop Trump’s raids.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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