AP NEWS

Defense committee chairman: Trump stealing funds from military needs

February 15, 2019

President Trump is beginning to “steal money from military needs” to build his border wall, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Friday.

Rep. Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, slammed the president’s Rose Garden declaration of a national emergency to fund a wall along the Mexican border.

“It is clear that there is no national emergency only a manufactured crisis and there has been no attempt to explain how the wall has anything to do with supporting U.S. military needs, as the law intends,” Mr. Smith said in a statement.

The new chairman of the top House defense committee has warned that attempts to use the emergency powers inside the U.S. will bring lawsuits over whether there is, in fact, a national emergency.

Mr. Trump said in his speech that he expects to face legal action in courts across the country, but ultimately expects to win in the Supreme Court.

Mr. Smith has raised questions since becoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee this year about the president’s move to send active-duty troops to increase security at the southern border and use military funds to build the wall.

“There really isn’t that much evidence of a crisis,” Mr. Smith said in his first public hearing as chairman.

The emergency declaration sets up what is likely to be a fierce battle between the president and the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees the allocation of funds for the national defense budget.

Mr. Smith said Mr. Trump’s declaration to reroute $3.6 billion from military construction accounts “further undermines his credibility in requesting the upcoming defense budget.”

“It is utterly disrespectful of U.S. national security and the needs of our men and women in uniform,” Mr. Smith said. “Congress must conduct oversight to identify exactly which projects supporting service members and their families the president has chosen to value less than this political stunt.”