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Pentagon To Pay $6 Billion To Help Build Border Wall

Wall

‘‘I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great great wall on our southern border and I'll have Mexico pay for that wall.’’—Donald Trump. If there is only one thing everybody knows about President Donald Trump, it’s that he has sworn to build a huge border wall between the United States and its southern neighbor, Mexico, and even make them pay for it.

It’s an idea that has alternately been heralded as the key to securing the nation’s most porous border and derided as a harebrained plan by over-reaching xenophobes. Many politicians have vehemently opposed it, labeling it immoral, ineffective and expensive. It has evoked such divided reactions that it caused the longest government shutdown in history after Democrats, rarely known to turn down multi-billion infrastructure projects, failed to compromise on funding last year.

Yet, Trump and his cronies have been unrelenting and have demonstrated an almost uncanny ability to bend over backward, constantly scrounging for money from unlikely sources to fund their pet project. And now, the Washington Post has reports that the Pentagon plans to take another $1.5 billion targeted at various military programs including an intercontinental ballistic missile system, the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) and support of the Afghan security forces to fund construction of an 80-mile stretch on the 1,000-mile wall (natural obstacles will guard the other 900 miles of border).

That comes hot on the heels of the Pentagon’s March decision to transfer $1 billion from Army personnel budget accounts. In all, the Pentagon is expected to shift ~$6.1 billion to build the border wall including $3.6 billion from military construction projects.

The defense body has defended its decision, with acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan saying selected funds were excess or early to need and that the move would not compromise on national security:

The funds were drawn from a variety of sources, including cost savings, programmatic changes and revised requirements, and therefore will have minimal impact on force readiness…’’ before adding,“We have very smart people here in the department, and we found ways to do this without having any impact on readiness…’’

He has made a concession though, promising that no more funds will be reprogrammed.

Democrats oppose move

The sudden urgency to move ahead with the construction might have been informed by the recent surge in the number of illegal immigrants nabbed at the U.S.-Mexico border.

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Business Insider

But that does not mean that everybody sees it that way.

As expected, Democrat politicians have come out with guns blazing, condemning the decision to reprogram military funds for the construction. Sen. Richard Durbin says the government has its priorities wrong: “The Pentagon has now reprogrammed 12 times more money to the wall than for repairs for Tyndall AFB, destroyed by Hurricane Michael. We should put troops first!” he wrote on Twitter. He was referring to the Air Force base in Florida where a storm damaged nearly all buildings.

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Rep.  John Garamendi, chairman of the House Armed Services readiness committee, has  not minced words regarding how he views the Federal Government’s latest move:

‘‘Once again, the president has shamefully ignored his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and stolen $1.5 billion in Pentagon funds to pay for his ineffective border wall,’’ he told Associated Press on Friday.

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Cato Institute

These politicians appear to be speaking the mind of the American citizen.

A 2018 CBS Poll on what Americans think about the border wall found that sentiments have altered dramatically. In 2013, Americans were heavily in support of building a border wall or fence with 65 percent saying it was a good idea—last year only 37 percent approved while 60 percent were against it.

(Click to enlarge)

Source: Cato Institute

Trump’s presidency, not high construction costs,  is the key reason for the growing opposition, with Democratic support for the wall taking a serious dive after Trump entered the presidential race. A 2013 poll found that 52 percent of Americans still favored the wall even when told the total cost would be around $46 billion—nearly double the current estimated cost of $24.3 billion.

By Alex Kimani for Safehaven.com

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