House committee pushes back on border funds from the Pentagon

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NBC)– Lawmakers are pushing back on a Pentagon move to divert military money to build border fencing.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan appeared before the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday morning after signing off on a plan to shift up to a billion dollars to border fence construction–a plan lawmakers on both sides of the aisle oppose.

The committee chairman laid out a future where the Pentagon could lose the ability to move funds without Congressional approval.

House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith (D) said, “Whatever one feels about the border wall, to look at the Pentagon as sort of a piggy bank slash slush fund, where you can simply go in and grab money for something when you need it, really undermines the credibility of the entire DOD budget.”

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan stated, “It was a very difficult discussion. And we understand significant downsides to losing what amounts to a privilege. The conversation took place prior to the declaration of a national emergency. It was part of the consulting that went on. We said here are the risks, longer-term to the department and those whisks, risks were weighed and then, given the legal order from the commander-in-chief, we are executing on that order.”

The committee’s chairman released a letter during the hearing blocking Shanahan’s diversion of funds to border fence construction stating the House Armed Services Committee “denies this request” to re-appropriate the money. However, Representative Smith did not say this during the hearing.

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