Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Bill To Reverse & Restore Military Funding After President Trump Repeatedly Raids Defense Department For His Border Wall

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined 30 additional Senators to introduce the Restoring Military Priorities Act of 2020.  The bill would reverse and restore the Department of Defense’s (DoD) recent short sighted and dangerous transfer of $3.8 billion to be used to build part of President Donald Trump’s ineffective border wall.  The bill also reduces DoD’s transfer authority so that DoD cannot turn around and try to divert additional funding for President Trump’s border wall.  Currently, there is no other process at hand to reverse a reprogramming.

The most recent DoD reprogramming targeted the men and women of the National Guard and a variety of programs added by Congress to address shortfalls that were in many cases identified by military leaders.  This was the third time in less than one year that the Defense Department has used this unilateral process to bypass Congress and divert funding to President Trump’s border wall.

“Every dollar diverted from our men and women in uniform for President Trump’s ‘big, beautiful’ border wall was appropriated by Congress to address a need identified by our military.  This latest reprogramming was not just an attack on Congress’ power of the purse, it was an attack on military readiness” Durbin said.  “The Senate should reject the President’s money grab and reassert our Constitutionally-granted powers by supporting this legislation.”

“Trump’s decision to build his vanity wall with funds stolen from our military isn’t about border security, it’s about politics,” Duckworth said.  “If he actually wanted to secure our nation’s border, he wouldn’t be stripping away funding from the dedicated men and women who are responsible for defending it.  I’m proud to introduce this legislation with Senator Durbin to help reverse these misguided decisions, restore critical funding to the Department of Defense and prevent this reckless politicization of vital military funds in the future.”

Along with Durbin and Duckworth, the legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jack Reed (D-RI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Doug Jones (D-AL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jon Tester (D-MT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Warner (D-VA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

In the spring of 2019, the Defense Department transferred $2.5 billion in funding to be used to build part of President Trump’s border wall, and the President later raided an additional $3.6 billion in military construction funds for his wall.  Earlier this month, the Defense Department reprogrammed another $3.8 billion from the men and women of the National Guard and a variety of programs added by Congress to address shortfalls that were in many cases identified by military leaders in critical equipment.  The reprogramming also targets $169 million allocated for two C-130Js for the Air Guard, potentially risking modernization efforts for the 182nd Airlift Wing in Peoria, Illinois, which is in need of such aircraft.

In January, it was reported that President Trump intends to raid $7.2 billion in DoD funds this year to pay for his wall, diverting funding from military families and forcing American taxpayers to pay for his vanity project and failed campaign promise.

Full text of the legislation is available here