1151 GMT August 20, 2019
Acting US Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan approved the transfer, a spokesman at the US Defense Department said Friday, Press TV wrote.
The $1.5 billion would be used to “undertake fence replacement” in and around Tucson, Arizona, and El Centro, Texas, Pentagon spokesman Tom Crosson, said.
It follows the Pentagon’s decision in March to transfer $1 billion from Army personnel budget accounts to support border wall construction.
The combined total of $2.5 billion is in response to President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border, activating executive powers provided under the National Emergencies Act to utilize the armed forces and construction powers to build a border barrier.
Trump had previously threatened to declare a national emergency if Congress did not pass his entire desired program for a wall on the US-Mexican border by February 15.
In all, the Pentagon is expected to shift about $6 billion to help build a border wall, including about $3.6 billion from military construction projects, some of which will be delayed.
Some Democratic lawmakers in Congress have been highly critical of the Pentagon shifting money not originally authorized for border security.
“Once again, the president has shamefully ignored his oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and stolen $1.5 billion in Pentagon funds to pay for his ineffective border wall,” said Representative John Garamendi, a California Democrat who is chairman of the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee.
To piece together the $1.5 billion for additional wall construction, the Pentagon is shifting funds from several programs where it says it found savings. The biggest chunk, $604 million, is from the Afghan Security Forces Fund, which funds Afghanistan’s army and other security forces in the war-torn country.
Removing the $604 million means the Afghan Security Forces Fund in the current Defense Department budget is reduced from the $4.9 billion approved by Congress to about $4.3 billion.
Trump has made toughening immigration policies a central tenet of his presidency and has vowed to build a wall along the US-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking.