A senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee introduced a bill Thursday seeking to reclaim $3.6 billion in emergency funds the Trump administration reallocated to fund a U.S.-Mexico border wall.
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said the Stopping Executive Overreach on Military Appropriations Act (SEOMA) would reinstate funding for 127 military projects in 26 states and territories, including an $89 million naval base project within her home state of Washington.
Secretary of Defense Mark Esper last month signed off on $3.6 billion in Defense Department construction funds for 175 miles of wall on the border.
“The President’s decision to use a phony emergency declaration to take money away from our service members and their families is a gross abuse of executive power that hurts military families in my state and others, and puts our nation’s security at risk,” Murray said in a statement.
“We’re taking action to not only reverse President Trump’s reckless decision to ransack funds for critical military priorities and infrastructure projects that help keep our country safe, such as the pier and maintenance facility at Naval Base Kitsap in my home state of Washington, but also to make sure no President going forward can take reckless, harmful steps like this one.”
In August, the Supreme Court cleared the way for the government to use about $2.5 billion in Defense Department funds after that money had been frozen by lower courts while a lawsuit was proceeding. Trump had directed $155 million to be diverted to border facilities from FEMA disaster relief.
Co-sponsors of Murray's bill were Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York, Dick Durbin of Illinois, Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Brian Schatz of Hawaii. The proposed legislation would also direct the Office of Government Ethics to review all current and future contracts related to the border wall to determine if the president, his family, or his top allies would personally profit from such contracts, or if there is any conflict of interest, the news release said.
Murray acknowledged the bill would likely not pass in the GOP-controlled Senate, but told the Kitsap Sun that there were lawmakers from both sides of the aisle who were interested in halting the border funding and redirecting it back toward the military projects.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer contributed to this report.