In a 13 February 2020 reprogramming action notification sent to Capitol Hill, the Trump Administration announced the planned transfer of $3.831 billion from Department of Defense (DoD) Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) coffers to fund additional Department of Homeland Security (DHS) border wall construction in order to “impede and deny drug smuggling activities.”

The rationale/explanation for the transfer is as follows:

The reprogramming action justification states that the identified program funding tapped — $2.2 billion from the FY20 base budget and $1.6 billion from the FY20 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget — is either “early to need” or “excess to need.” A significant part of the funding comes from “Congressional special interest items,” shorthand for accounts where the Congress has increased funding beyond that requested by the Trump Administration — this is particularly true of the National Guard equipment accounts tapped for more than a third of the total transfer.

The new wall funding is to come from the following specific DoD accounts:

Base Budget (-$2.2 billion)

  • Army – Army National Guard HMMWV Modernization (-$100 million)
  • Army -Heavy Expanded Mobile Tactical Truck (-$101 million)
  • Navy – F-35 STOVL (-$223 million)
  • Navy – V-22 Osprey (-$155 million)
  • Navy – P-8A Poseidon (-$180 million)
  • Navy – Expeditionary Fast Transport (-$261 million)
  • Air Force – C-130J airlifter (-$196 million)
  • Air Force – Observation Attack Replacement OA-X (-$180 million)

Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) Budget (-$1.6 billion)

  • Air Force – C-130K ($169 million)
  • Air Force – MQ-9 ($160 million)
  • National Guard Miscellaneous Equipment ($1.3 billion)

Congressional opposition to the move was (again) swift and bipartisan.

Congressional Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) issued a “Joint Statement on Trump’s Latest Attempt to Steal Military Funding for Wasteful, Ineffective Wall” noting:

“Congress has repeatedly voted in a bipartisan way to refuse funding the President’s wasteful, ineffective border wall. This latest effort to steal Congressionally-appropriated military funding undermines our national security and the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution…. This latest theft of nearly $4 billion in military funds represents another of President Trump’s broken promises to our servicemembers, especially our brave sailors who he assured would receive funding for urgently needed, state-of-the-art ships.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA), tweeted the following:

Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), was also critical, noting:

“The re-programming announced today is contrary to Congress’s constitutional authority, and I believe that it requires Congress to take action. I will be working with my colleagues to determine the appropriate steps to take.”

In response to Congressional criticism, Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark T. Esper, speaking from the Munich Security Conference, said: “I’d say this much: border security is national security and national security is our mission. I think many NATO allies understand that as well. The action we took is legal under the law. I think that should be no surprise and I’ll just leave it at that for now.”