The Pentagon will allocate $1 billion from its budget to build 57 miles of President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall, acting defense secretary Patrick Shanahan said Monday night in a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
In addition to allocating money to DHS for the wall, Shanahan said the funds would be used in “constructing and improving roads, and installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso Sectors of the border.”
Trump declared a national emergency last month so he could secure $8 billion for his long-promised border wall, after a 35-day shutdown of the federal government when he unsuccessfully battled with Democrats in Congress over funding. The president said at the time that he expected to be sued over the decision.
Earlier this month, Democrats and 12 Republicans passed a resolution condemning Trump’s national emergency declaration at the 1,954-mile Mexican border, which the president vetoed. House Democrats will vote Tuesday to try again to override the president’s veto, which some expect will fail.
Supporters of the wall celebrated Shanahan’s decision Monday night. Donald Trump Jr. tweeted, “Christmas came early this week.”
Democratic senators immediately denounced the decision, and wrote a letter to Shanahan objecting to the Pentagon’s funding plan because, they said, the decision to fund the wall interferes with “many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military.” Democrats also objected to the Pentagon “implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees.”
The letter was signed by every Democratic senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies, according to CNN.
Shanahan is scheduled to testify before the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.