Funds From US Military Pensions To Be Diverted Towards Trump's Border Wall

Funds From US Military Pensions To Be Diverted Towards Trump's Border Wall

The Pentagon has released a list of projects that will divert millions in funds towards the construction of the border wall.

In a 5-4 decision last week, the Supreme Court ruled that $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds could be diverted to construct President Trump's beloved wall at the US -Mexico border. The decision isn't a final ruling, and is being appealed by the ACLU, but effectively allows construction on specific wall projects to begin while the litigation continues. This week, Pentagon officials revealed where the total $6.1 billion for the wall come from — the Defense Department funds that will be diverted to expand the barrier at the Mexican border will be taken out of programs ranging from funding of Afghan security forces to a retirement program for the U.S. military, as well as construction projects for military bases around the world, The Wall Street Journal reports



According to reports, $224 million of the funds will be diverted from the military’s new Blended Retirement System, a facility that combines the traditional military retirement system with a new system combining pensions and 401(k) programs. The program, while standard for new recruits in the military from last year, was optional for pre-existing members of the military. The list released by the Pentagon reveals that $604 million of the funds will be taken from an amount that had been slated to support Afghan security forces. Another $251 million will come out of Pentagon funds used to pay for the destruction of U.S. chemical weapons. The Pentagon will transfer about $343 million from Air Force weapons programs where officials have either negotiated reductions or canceled systems.



Pentagon officials emphasized that none of the military fund transfers towards the border wall construction will affect military benefits for current service members or retirees. Fewer existing military service members switched from the traditional retirement system to the Blended Retirement System last year, leaving unspent funds that can be diverted towards the construction, the Pentagon says. While shifting funds between departments is commonplace across the federal government, Todd Harrison, director of the defense budget analysis program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, pointed out that the border wall transfers are unusual for their size and how they are being carried out. While budget reprogramming generally transfers unspent funds from one program to other programs that may be experiencing shortfalls, in this case, billions in funds are being pulled from multiple programs to be funneled into the single border wall project.



After Trump declared a national emergency in February, the White House ordered the transfer of $3.6 billion in military construction money and $2.5 billion in defense counterdrug funding to help build the border wall. Trump later told the Pentagon to augment the spending by transferring up to $2.5 billion more from other Pentagon accounts to the drug interdiction budget. A spokeswoman for the White House Office of Management and Budget said the transfer of drug interdiction money to the border wall project was being done under “standard reprogramming authority,” according to The Wall Street Journal. The billions in new funding will pay for an additional 100 miles of the border wall. Acting Customs and Border Protection chief Mark Morgan said in an interview that Defense Department funding will go not just to a wall, but "a wall system", Business Insider reports. "There's technology, there's access roads, there's lighting," Morgan said. "Every mile that goes up we are exponentially raising our capacity with the border patrol to do their job effectively."  

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