- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2019

House Democrats unveiled a bill Tuesday that would ban the Pentagon from spending any of its money to build a border wall, effectively dooming President Trump’s emergency wall-building declaration from earlier this year.

The language is included in the first draft of the 2020 defense spending bill, which also seeks to punish Mr. Trump for his attempt to shift money by making the Pentagon have to jump through more hoops for any future money reprogramming.

Overall, the legislation spends far less on the Pentagon than Mr. Trump had requested and rejects his attempt to pile money into war-funding accounts to hide it from budget caps.

“We have the most capable and advanced military in the world, and this bill honors their mission by adequately funding programs to care for service members and their families, and by protecting defense funding from being stolen for the president’s wasteful wall,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

The bill is slated for its first committee action on Wednesday.

Congress approved a bill earlier this year appropriating $1.375 billion for the president’s border wall — far less than the more than $5 billion he’d demanded.

Mr. Trump signed that legislation then immediately declared a border emergency, flexing the National Emergencies Act to move $3.6 billion from military construction funds at the Pentagon over to build border wall.

The president also said he would move $2.5 billion within the Pentagon to its drug interdiction accounts, then use that money for border wall construction in drug corridors — which is allowed under current law. And Mr. Trump claimed $601 million out of a Treasury Department forfeiture fund for the wall.

Combined with the money Congress did approve, it amounts to more than $8 billion.

Congress approved a bill overturning the emergency declaration but the president vetoed it and that veto was easily sustained.

House Democrats have now sued, hoping the courts will step in to referee. Democrat-led states, immigrant-rights groups and environmental organizations have also mounted lawsuits in courtrooms from California to Texas to Washington, D.C.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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