The White House plans to take another $7.2 billion in Pentagon funding for President Trump’s beloved border wall in 2020, the Washington Post reports. That will bring the total amount of government money used on the wall to $18.4 billion. And, it should be noted, the government that money came from is not Mexico’s.
As in years past, Trump will take money from two parts of the Pentagon budget. Just under half, or $3.5 billion, will be taken from programs meant to fight drug trafficking. Another $3.7 billion will come from a military construction budget.
Last year, the White House took $3.6 billion in construction funds to work on the wall. That money would have otherwise gone to 127 projects in 23 states. Among the defunded projects were a new middle school on a base in Kentucky and repairs to a dangerous U.S. Navy maintenance building in Virginia. It’s unclear if new projects will suffer from the 2020 reallocation or if the same ones from last year will continue to be delayed.
The state of emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border that Trump declared last February has made his pilfering of the Pentagon budget possible. And recent court rulings have emboldened him to continue down this path. Last July, the Supreme Court killed a lower-court injunction that put a stop to money transfers from the Pentagon to the border-wall project. However, the Court’s ruling was more about the standing of those challenging the transfer than the merits of the case.
Still, Trump celebrated it as a victory. And he did the same last week when an appeals court followed the Supreme Court’s lead and killed another lower-court injunction halting the use of Pentagon money on the border wall. That ruling, too, was based more on standing than the merits.
According to plans obtained by the Post, the White House says the latest chunk of money it’s taking from the Pentagon will be enough to build 885 miles of border wall by 2022. But the Trump administration has been remarkably bad at estimating how much border wall can be built.
Just last week, after hitting the 100th mile of wall built during Trump’s presidency, most of it replacing preexisting border barriers, acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf insisted that 450 miles of wall will be built by the end of 2020. That would require building roughly a new mile of wall each day.