House Democrats seek documents related to funds diverted to pay for border...

House Democrats seek documents related to funds diverted to pay for border wall

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Work continues on a previously funded section of a border wall in New Mexico (Photo : U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

WASHINGTON – House Democrats have asked the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to release documents related to funds that would be diverted to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall under the national emergency declaration.

“The President’s announcement to spend up to $6.725 billion in additional funding for construction of a border wall or barrier came at the end of bipartisan negotiations on an agreed-to funding level of $1.375 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 for border security,” House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.), House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chairman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) wrote in a letter to Acting OMB Director Russell Voigt that was sent Friday.

They added: “However, important budgetary details of the plan have not yet been provided, including the specific funding sources and additional authorities that would be used and the programs, projects, and activities from which funds would be diverted.”

The lawmakers asked that the information be provided by March 22.

Early Monday morning the administration’s FY 2020 budget request arrived on Capitol Hill. It reportedly calls for $8.6 billion in wall funding, $750 billion for the Department of Defense and a 5 percent across the board cut in non-defense spending. It aims to balance the budget in 15 years.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Sunday that the request for wall money is a non-starter.

“President Trump hurt millions of Americans and caused widespread chaos when he recklessly shut down the government to try to get his expensive and ineffective wall, which he promised would be paid for by Mexico. Congress refused to fund his wall and he was forced to admit defeat and reopen the government. The same thing will repeat itself if he tries this again,” they said in a joint statement.

Trump issued the declaration last month in conjunction with the signing of legislation to keep the government funded through Sep. 30, 2019.

Under the declaration, the administration may be able to secure about $8 billion for the wall by taking money from “unobligated” funds.

Sixteen state attorneys general and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed lawsuits, arguing the declaration is unconstitutional.

Last week the House approved a resolution to overturn the declaration. The Senate is expected to follow suit later this week. Trump has said he will veto the resolution if it comes to his desk.

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