WASHINGTON, DC — The Trump administration is considering diverting around $7.2 billion in additional Pentagon funding for border wall construction, five times what Congress authorized, sources told CNN and the Washington Post.
The additional funds would allow the government enough money to complete approximately 885 miles of new fencing by the spring of 2022, according to an administration official.
The Washington Post first reported on the administration plans to divert additional funds.
Citing internal planning figures obtained by the Post, the Trump administration will pull $3.7 billion in funding from military construction projects and $3.5 billion from counter-drug program funding for the southern border wall, which Trump hopes to tout in his reelection campaign.
“The Department of Defense has no new announcements with regard to border wall construction,” said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Chris Mitchell.
The White House and Department of Homeland Security did not respond to requests for comment.
Brian Hastings, US Border Patrol Chief of Law Enforcement Operations said Tuesday, “we need border wall,” when asked during congressional testimony if it was problematic that the President wants to take $3.5 billion from counterdrug program funding.
In February 2019, Trump ended a 35-day government shutdown when Congress gave him nearly $1.4 billion in wall funding, far less than he had sought. He then declared a national emergency in order to divert federal funds from other government accounts for his border wall, bypassing Congress after lawmakers refused to meet his multibillion-dollar request. The Pentagon authorized $3.6 billion in military construction funds from deferred projects overseas and planned projects in the US.
In September, CNN reported that the Trump administration was discussing diverting more money from the Pentagon budget to constructing the border wall, a U.S. official familiar with funding of the project told CNN at the time.
Last week, a federal appeals court allowed the administration to use the billions in military construction funds for the wall — which Trump touted as a victory — after a lower court blocked the administration from dipping into them last month.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf on Friday announced that the Trump administration has built 100 miles of new wall along the US-Mexico border, but the 100 miles are only a portion of the administration’s goal to build 450 miles by the end of the year and the majority replaces wall that was already in place.
Trump has faced a host of legal challenges over his border wall and his attempt to shore up the effort with additional funds from other government accounts.