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Pentagon chief says $1 billion of funding shifted to border wall

26 March 2019

The Pentagon has authorized a payment of $1 billion to begin building a portion of President Trump's proposed southern border wall, according to U.S. officials.

"These funds will be used to support DHS's request to build 57 miles of 18-foot-high pedestrian fencing, constructing and improving roads, and installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso Sectors of the border in support of the February 15 national emergency declaration on the southern border of the United States", defense officials said in a statement.

Shanahan said late on Monday in a memo to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen that the Department of Defense had the authority to support counter-narcotics activities near worldwide boundaries.

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The US military would be coordinating its efforts with the Department of Homeland Security and the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a memo to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen that the Department of Defense had the authority to support counter-narcotics activities near global boundaries. In allocating the means, the Pentagon follows the provision of the U.S. law that allows it to engage in border wall construction to "block drug smuggling corridors across the worldwide boundaries of the United States".

"We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defense appropriation itself", the senators wrote, according to CNN.

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The Defense Department informed Congress last week that hundreds of military construction projects may be cut or delayed to fund the wall's construction.

In response, Trump declared a national emergency last month, clearing the way for the president to take money from the Pentagon's construction budget and drug forfeitures and use it for wall construction.

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Pentagon chief says $1 billion of funding shifted to border wall