A bill introduced by Democrats in the Senate on Wednesday would reverse President Trump’s order to divert billions in U.S. military funding to Trump’s wall on the border with Mexico.
The bill would restore $3.8 billion to the Pentagon budget — money earmarked for “17 Navy and Air Force aircraft and other military programs,” reports Defense News. The planes affected include F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, C130J transports and P-8 submarine hunters.
Trump had used his disputed national emergency declaration to shift the funds to construction of about 177 miles of border fencing. His decision to raid military accounts for the “wall” has frustrated members of both parties in Congress.
Along with restoring the $3.8 billion, says The Hill, “The bill would also cut the amount of money the Pentagon would have the ability to transfer going forward, in an attempt to prevent the administration from leveraging military funding in the future.”
Introduction of the Senate bill follows a stern letter Tuesday to Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker from the Democratic and Republican leaders of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), declaring that “the Department of Defense cannot ignore congressional will in pursuit of their own priorities.”
“President Trump has twice taken funding from military construction projects … to pay for a wall he promised voters would be paid for by Mexico. His actions are yet another reckless abuse of power,” said HASC Vice Chairman Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD).
The Senate bill was introduced by Dick Durbin (D-IL), the top Democrat on the Appropriations Committee’s Defense subcommittee.
“This latest reprogramming was not just an attack on Congress’ power of the purse, it was an attack on military readiness. The Senate should reject the President’s money grab and reassert our Constitutionally-granted powers by supporting this legislation,” Durbin wrote in a Tuesday statement.
The legislation “would cut the Pentagon’s general transfer authority from $4 billion to $1.798 billion,” The Hill says. “It would also limit the amount of money that could be transferred from a war fund from $2 billion down to $371 million.”
The bill’s future, however, is in doubt.
While it provides Democrats “a messaging opportunity ― to portray President Donald Trump as a foe of the military in an election year ― it’s unclear whether either effort will produce a practical effect,” Defense News says.
“Trump has previously claimed the authority to bypass Congress when siphoning defense funds, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), would have to be willing to buck the president to allow the Senate bill a floor vote.”