Yesterday, only 14 House Republicans voted to side with the Constitution and support a resolution blocking Trump’s emergency declaration power grab – a depressing indictment of GOP priorities, but not unexpected given the extent to which the GOP is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Trump. Meanwhile, evidence continues to mount about the high costs and real consequences of diverting funds for border wall construction.
- Outrage is building over the news that the military will take $1 billion from a military personnel account in order to move forward with building 57 miles of the border wall. As Time magazine assesses, the news represents a risk for the military – “The Pentagon’s decision drew fire from Democrats and Republicans, alike, which see the move as a way for the Trump Administration to sidestep Congressional power of the purse.” As House Armed Services chairman Rep. Adam Smith wrote in a new letter, “To look at the Pentagon as sort of a piggy bank/slush fund, where you can simply go in and grab money for something when you need it, really undermines the credibility of the entire” defense budget.
- News of the $1 billion redirection of congressionally appropriated funds comes after continued focus on the Pentagon list of state and local military construction projects that could be raided for wall funding – including school building efforts for military children.
- Puerto Rico, still ravaged in aftermath of hurricanes, is coming in for disproportionate harm. Assessing the list of military construction projects that could be raided, Dan Spinelli in Mother Jones writes that “Puerto Rico Stands to Lose the Most Funding from Trump’s Border Wall.” Meanwhile, the Washington Post editorialized today, “The Trump administration has turned bigotry into policy in Puerto Rico,” noting that, “for the government to turn its back on the more than 3 million citizens who have made Puerto Rico their home is essentially turning his bigotry into official policy. And that is a travesty.”
- Marine Corps leadership is concerned that the deployment of soldiers to the border and diversion of funds for the wall is compromising military readiness. As a Los Angeles Times story, “Marine Corps commandant says deploying troops to the border poses ‘unacceptable risk,’” noted, “The commandant of the Marines has warned the Pentagon that deployments to the southwest border and funding transfers under the president’s emergency declaration, among other unexpected demands, have posed “unacceptable risk to Marine Corps combat readiness and solvency.”
- Landowners in Texas prepare for government land seizure and harmful impact of border wall on local property. The federal government is taking aggressive steps to seize land from Texas landowners for border wall construction. NPR recently reported that more than 570 private landowners in Texas have started to receive “right-of-entry” letters from the federal government seeking to survey their land for possible border wall construction, including 90-year old Elvira Canales, who said, “she’ll take legal action if the government tries to take her land for the road, or for the proposed wall … ‘I won’t sell it, or I won’t give it permission because it’s my property for generations and generations.’”
And a New York Times story by Manny Fernandez highlights why a border wall would divide local American communities and place some U.S. citizen property owners near the Rio Grande on the Mexican side of the proposed border wall:
in South Texas, things get fuzzy. The border there, by tradition and international treaty, is the Rio Grande, and no one has yet figured out how to build a border wall in the middle of a river. As a result, the fence that elsewhere would trace the southern edge of the United States can run, as it does in Mr. Veloz’s neighborhood, more than a mile north of the river. That has created an oddly isolated zone of homes, ranchland, industrial sites and nature preserves that locals call a no man’s land, between the barrier and the border — a place that dozens of Texans call home.