Washington, D.C. March 26, 2019 – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Smith (D-WA) released the following statement about DoD’s intent to reprogramming funding to fund building a wall on the southwest border and has issued a letter denying the request.
“Congress grants the Department of Defense the ability to move a limited amount of appropriated funds through the reprogramming process in order to address emergent, higher-priority needs, subject to specific statutory limitations. Congress has trusted the Department with this tool to give them additional flexibility to manage day-to-day operations. DoD’s recent notification of its intent to use that process to reprogram $1 billion without Congressional approval is a violation of that trust.
“DoD is attempting to circumvent Congress and the American people’s opposition to using taxpayer money for the construction of an unnecessary wall, and the military is paying the cost. Marine Corps leadership recently signaled that a lack of fiscal support from the Department has required them to cancel or significantly reduce participation in three training exercises, as well as reduce maintenance expenditures for combat equipment, and that without necessary relief the Marine Corps will have to cancel five more training exercises, reduce and delay additional maintenance, and reduce or cancel Reserve mobilization.
“Meanwhile, the Army has made an intentional decision to not pursue its requested authorized end strength for Fiscal Year 2019. This decision was made after Congress, in good faith, approved and funded the Department’s request based on discussion with the Army experts. The administration has decided to use the funds available from this decision to fund portions of the border wall.
“This needs to stop. Based on the unfunded requests received for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget and the issues raised by the Marine Corps, there are obviously more pressing issues with readiness and modernization that these funds could – and more importantly should – go to. Instead of focusing on readiness, hurricane recovery, and other genuine issues, the administration continues to spend billions of dollars on an imaginary crisis. The priority needs to be on supporting our service men and women, and their families who defend our nation. In this, the administration continues to fail. There is no national emergency at the southern border. The Administration should stop using our servicemembers as a political tool and instead focus on building military capabilities and readiness and areas where we should focus our defense resources. Congress will act as necessary to defend its Constitutional prerogatives.”
The Committee’s formal response to the Department can be found here.