- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Congressional Democrats lashed out at President Trump on Wednesday over his border wall plans, saying they’ve learned he cut $129 million from funds to fight drug trafficking in Afghanistan and is spending it instead on the wall here at home.

The money was earmarked to pay Afghan forces to conduct drug interdiction operations, which Congress deemed necessary because of the large heroin trade emanating from that region.

But Mr. Trump, as part of his border emergency declaration, moved the money out of Afghanistan accounts and into his border wall plans, Democrats said in a letter to the Pentagon.

They said the cost for the border wall is coming in above estimates, which sent the Pentagon scrambling to find money it could divert.

“Unfortunately, the decision to prioritize the border wall over military counternarcotics activities will have a continuing impact on law enforcement and national security matters,” wrote Senate Democrats, led by Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Richard Durbin, his top lieutenant.

Their letter is the latest salvo in the ongoing battle over Mr. Trump’s wall.

When Congress allocated only a fraction of what he’d asked for in fiscal year 2019, he proclaimed a border emergency and said that unlocked powers to move money around to build beyond what Congress approved.

He said he would shift about $6.1 billion from Pentagon accounts toward the wall.

The new shift would raise that total to $6.2 billion, the Democrats said.

A federal judge last week ruled the president’s emergency proclamation illegal. That judge is still deciding what to do about it.

Democrats, in their letter, said they were told the new money is needed because the administration is facing cost overruns from bureaucratic costs they didn’t take into account when they laid their plans.

Democrats said they only learned about the shift — which they said is illegal — in an Oct. 8 briefing from the Pentagon.

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