WASHINGTON — The Pentagon has failed to send Congress two reports required on the deployment of active forces to the U.S.-Mexico border that are part of the legal language being used to justify the deployment.
According to the legislative language giving the Department of Defense permission to provide assistance to secure the southern land border of the United States, the Pentagon — as well as other agencies — must file progress reports to various congressional entities every three months.
Depending on which military office is responding, the date to which active troops first arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border for the current deployment ranges from Oct. 30 to Nov. 2, 2018.
Using Nov. 1, 2018, as the date when deployment of active forces to the U.S.-Mexico border started, the reports would have been required to be filed on Feb. 1, 2019, and May 1, 2019.
Pentagon officials told TMN on Thursday that the authority providing the Pentagon the ability to use active forces at the U.S.-Mexico border was first used in November 2018; therefore, the first ever three-month report covers the period of Nov. 1, 2018, through Feb. 1, 2019.
“This report is currently wrapping up internal DoD coordination and should be delivered within the next two to three weeks,” an official told TMN.
The reports are to include data, analysis and a description of the assistance provided, a description of the sources and amounts of funds used to provide such assistance, a description of the amounts obligated to provide such assistance, an assessment of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of such assistance in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s objectives and strategy to address the challenges on the U.S.-Mexico border, and recommendations, if any, to enhance the effectiveness of such assistance, according to the authorizing language.
The reports are to be filed with the congressional defense committees, the Committee on Homeland Security of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs of the Senate, according to language in the national defense act.
The bifurcation of the granting authority language was raised by Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.), whose House district includes El Paso, Texas, when a panel of Pentagon officials appeared before the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday.
“Why has the (Pentagon) not submitted the reports (required) to the law it is citing,” she asked the panel of Adm. Craig Faller, commander, U.S. Southern Command, Gen. Terrance O’Shaughnessy, commander, U.S. Northern Command, Kenneth Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, and Kathryn Wheelbarger, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs.
None could answer. When Escobar asked when it could be done, Rapuano volunteered “as fast as I can make it happen.”