March 02, 2020
Bill would reverse unauthorized transfer of $3.8 billion of congressionally-appropriated funds for military equipment and infrastructure repairs to fund border wall
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined 31 Senators to introduce the Restoring Military Priorities Act of 2020 to reverse and restore the $3.8 billion in congressionally-appropriated funds that the Trump administration reprogrammed away from the Department of Defense (DoD) to be used for President Donald Trump’s border wall this February. The bill also bars DoD from reprogramming different funds for the wall and reinforces Congress’s constitutional decision-making authority over taxpayer money.
The latest unauthorized defense spending targets much-needed funds from the men and women of the National Guard, in addition to a variety of defense programs funded by Congress, to address critical equipment shortfalls identified by military leadership. The action continues the Trump administration’s unprecedented violation of the constitutional separation of powers, subversion of congressional appropriations laws and abuse of the National Emergencies Act to take money from members of the military to fund an expensive and ineffective border wall.
In 2019, the Trump administration pulled other unauthorized funding for the border wall from military construction projects including $85 million from a project at Holloman Air Force Base and $40 million from a project at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) and a variety of other defense accounts including personnel and counter narcotics funding. Despite earlier promises, the Trump administration failed to restore the funding to those projects and dozens of others at military bases around the country and the world in its FY2021 budget request.
“This administration continues to prioritize empty campaign promises over the men and women who bravely serve in our National Guard, and is even willing to violate the separation of powers in the constitution in the process,” Udall said. “I will continue to do everything in my power to make sure that the members of our military at home and abroad get the resources and support they need, which is why I am proud to join this bill to stand up for the American people against this latest power grab. Though a bipartisan majority has twice voted to terminate presidential actions like this one, more Republicans need to join us in standing up for the Constitution and for the members of our military and military families that keep us safe.”
Last week, Udall joined Senate Democrats on the Appropriations Committee in a letter to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper demanding that DoD reverse and restore the $3.8 billion in reprogrammed funds. Udall has also championed the constitutional separation of powers as the author of the bipartisan resolution to terminate the president’s unlawful national emergency declaration, which the Trump administration is using to raid $125 million from military bases in New Mexico to pay for the border wall.
Udall cosponsored this legislation with Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH..), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), and Chris Coons (D-Del.).
Full text of the legislation is available here.
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