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House Freedom Caucus To Lead Fight For Trump’s Wall Money

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House Democrats are moving rapidly to stymie President Trump’s efforts to build a desperately needed wall on our southern border, but the conservatives of the House Freedom Caucus have already pledged to stand in the breach.

A draft spending bill introduced Tuesday by House Democrats would prohibit the use of any military construction funds approved since fiscal 2015 to be used for President Trump's border wall, reported The Hill’s Rebecca Kheel.

"This year’s funding bill makes tremendous investments in our veterans and military families, rebuilds our national security infrastructure, and soundly rejects President Trump’s attempt to steal funds from our armed services to pay for a nativist, border wall boondoggle," Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee in charge of the bill, said in statement.

According to draft bill text, (found in Section 612) the House’s fiscal 2020 military construction and veterans affairs appropriations bill would prohibit funds from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2020 from being "obligated, expended or used to design, construct, or carry out a project to construct a wall, barrier, fence, or road along the Southern border of the United States or a road to provide access to a wall, barrier, or fence constructed along the Southern border of the United States."

The legislative text is the latest effort by Democrats to block the Trump administration from dipping into Pentagon coffers to build the president's proposed wall.

As Ms. Kheel reminded us, President Trump declared a national emergency in February to unlock military construction funds to build the wall without congressional approval.

Congress passed a bill to block the emergency declaration, but Trump vetoed it, and the House did not muster the votes to override the veto.

House Democrats have since sued Trump over the emergency declaration, noted Ms. Kheel.

The administration has said it is eyeing $3.6 billion from the military construction accounts to be used for the wall. The Pentagon has not yet taken money from those accounts and has said it will not touch money meant for military housing or contracts that are scheduled to be awarded this year.

The Pentagon’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal asks for $3.6 billion to backfill the money expected to be used by the emergency declaration as well as another $3.6 billion for any additional construction on the southern border.

The bill released Tuesday would provide $10.5 billion for military construction and $217.5 billion for veterans affairs.

The military construction funding includes $2 billion to rebuild military bases battered by Hurricane Michael and Hurricane Florence, Kheel’s report disclosed.

The measure also includes $1.5 billion for military housing — $117.8 million below the fiscal 2019 level but $140.8 million above the administration’s request. The committee went higher than the request to address widespread issues in military housing, such as mold, vermin and lead, according to a bill summary from Democrats.

No sooner had the Democrats voted the bill out of subcommittee than the House Freedom Caucus issued the following statement:

“There is an emergency at our southern border. Given that daily reality, it is irresponsible to hold hostage future funding for our veterans, military base construction, and national defense. We oppose any appropriations bill that interferes with the President's efforts to secure our borders, including the building of border security walls.”

As of press time House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had not issued any statement or made any floor remarks in opposition to the Democrats’ latest efforts to stop construction of the border wall.

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