Trump Says He Plans to Use ‘Very, Very Small Amount' of DoD Budget to Build Wall

By Melanie Arter | February 15, 2019 | 6:45 PM EST

President Donald Trump (Screenshot)

( - President Donald Trump said Friday that he is planning to use billions of dollars from the Defense Department budget to build the wall, but it’s only a “very, very small amount” compared to the overall military budget.

During a Rose Garden ceremony announcing that he plans to sign an emergency order to fund the wall, Fox News White House Correspondent John Roberts said, “A lot of the money that goes to count toward your $8 billion is money that's being reprogrammed in the DOD budget.

“How can you guarantee to military families and to our men and women of the military that none of the money that would be reprogrammed to a wall will take away from other technology, other renovations, construction that is desperately needed in our military?” Roberts asked the president.

Trump said some of the funds that’s been given to the military has yet to be allocated, and some generals thinking building the wall is more important.

“So, John, we had certain funds that are being used at the discretion of generals, at the discretion of the military. Some of them haven’t been allocated yet, and some of the generals think that this is more important. I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for. I said, ‘What were you going to use it for?’ And I won't go into details, but it didn’t sound too important to me,” Trump said.

“Plus, if you think, I've gotten $700 billion for the military in year one, and then last year, $716 billion, and we're rebuilding our military, but we have a lot, and under the previous administration, our military was depleted -- badly depleted - and they weren’t spending -- I mean, they had a much less -- they had a much smaller amount of money,” he said.

“So when I got $700 billion, and then $716 billion -- and this year, it's going to be pretty big too, because there's few things more important than our military. You know, I'm a big deficit believer and all of that, but before we really start focusing on certain things, we have to build up our military. It was very badly depleted, and we're buying all new jet fighters, all new missiles, all new defensive equipment. We have -- we'll soon have a military like we've never had before,” the president said.

“But when you think about the kind of numbers you're talking about -- so you have $700 billion, $716 billion -- when I need $2 billion, $3 billion of out that for a wall -- which is a very important instrument, very important for the military because of the drugs that pour in,” Trump said.


Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney told reporters prior to the Rose Garden event that the president will have access to ‘roughly $8 billion worth of money that can be used to secure the southern border.”

Mulvaney explained that in addition to the $1.375 billion that Congress has allocated from the border security compromise, which Trump will sign into law later Friday or Saturday, the president “has access to roughly $600 million to the Treasury Forfeiture Fund."

“He has access to additional funds of money through Title 10, Section 284. This is counter-drug activities within the Department of Defense. While the amount varies, the amount that we intend to draw down from that account is roughly $2.5 billion. That includes some reprogramming from other Defense Department accounts into the 284 account,” Mulvaney said.

“And then lastly, the second military account is the Title 10, Section 2808, which is military construction. It shouldn't surprise anybody that the president, under certain circumstances, has the right to use military construction dollars in order to build things to help defend the nation. That's roughly $3.6 billion. That total is roughly $8 billion. That's it,” he said.

Mulvaney said the president’s plan will not involve taking away Puerto Rico’s or Texas’s disaster relief funds.

Office of Management and Budget (OMD) Acting Director Russell Vought pointed out that it’s “common authority” for the president to declare a national emergency. In fact, a national emergency has been declared 58 times since 1976, and 31 of them are still in effect.

“These have been used for everything from preventing the importation of uncut drugs in Sierra Leone to blocking assets for drug narcotics traffickers. So this is something that we really want to stress is: Appropriated dollars from Congress that is simply being used to be reprogrammed to other uses,’ Vought said.

“Every appropriations bill that you look at has some degree of reprogramming in it. This is using types of reprogramming authorities that are present, and, in this case, the ability to use money under 2808 to tap the military construction plan. So we think this is something that will give us ... the necessary funding to be able to execute the wall in a timely manner,” he said.

During Trump’s remarks on the humanitarian crisis at the border Friday, ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked Trump what he says to those - including some Republican allies - that he’s violating the Constitution by declaring a national emergency on the border and setting a bad precedent that will be abused possibly by Democratic presidents in the future.

“Well, not too many people. Yeah. Not too many people have said that, but the courts will determine that. Look, I expect to be sued. I shouldn’t be sued. Very rarely do you get sued when you do national emergency, and then other people say, ‘Oh, if you use it for this, now what are we using it for?’” We got to get rid of drugs and gangs and people. It's an invasion,” Trump said.

“We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country that we stop, but it's very hard to stop. With a wall, it would be very easy. So I think that we will be very successful in court. I think it's clear, and the people that say we create precedent -- well, what do you have? Fifty-six? There are a lot of times -- well, that's creating precedent, and many of those are far less important than having a border,” he added.

The president said without a border, “you don’t have a country.”

“You know, we fight -- before I got here -- we fight all over the world to create borders for countries, but we don’t create a border for our own country. So I think what will happen is, sadly, we'll be sued, and sadly, it'll go through a process, and, happily, we'll win -- I think,” Trump said.


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