Trump tweeted on Monday: “Christmas came early this week.”
Christmas came early this week. https://t.co/ypqkZgRkeR— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) March 26, 2019
The Pentagon notified Congress late Monday that it authorized the transfer of up to $1 billion to erect 57 miles of “pedestrian fencing” along the U.S.-Mexico border. This is in direct support of President Trump’s national emergency declaration from last month.
The wall will be 18 feet high and is to be erected in the Yuma and El Paso sectors, the statement read. The Pentagon’s announcement was notable because it is the first time the funds will be transferred under section 284 for the border wall.
Section 284 allows the Pentagon to “construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of Federal law enforcement agencies,” the statement read.
The Pentagon’s announcement was made as Trump nears a victory over Democrats as the House tries to override his first veto. A vote to override seems certain to fail, so his declaration will likely stand. The vote, which is set for Tuesday, would keep the border emergency intact, which for now, would allow the president to shift an additional $3.6 billion from military construction projects to work on a barrier along the southwest boundary.
“The president will be fine in the House,” said Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in a brief interview. “The veto will not be overridden.”
Patrick M. Shanahan, the acting Secretary of Defense, announced that the funds will be used to support the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol. He authorized the Army Corps of Engineers to begin its planning and execution.
A group of Democratic senators criticized the Pentagon’s move and called the maneuver a violation of congressional appropriations. Democrats have called the national emergency declaration a crisis manufactured by Trump
“The $1 billion reprogramming that the department is implementing without congressional approval constitutes a dollar-for-dollar theft from other readiness needs of our Armed Forces,” Sens. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and others wrote in a letter to Shanahan.