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The acting pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan is not sure about funding Trump's border wall which will mean redirecting funds from the military budget.
The acting United States Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Saturday he had not yet determined whether a border wall with Mexico was a military necessity or how much Pentagon money would be used. The U.S. president's announcement of a "national emergency" has also triggered a call for protests across the country.
U.S. President Donald Trump Friday declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.
A U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that Shanahan was likely to approve the US$3.6 billion being redirected from the military construction budget.
By declaring a national emergency, Trump can use certain Department of Defense funding to build the wall.
According to the law, the defense secretary has to decide whether the wall is militarily necessary before money from the military construction budget can be used.
"We always anticipated that this would create a lot of attention and since moneys potentially could be redirected, you can imagine the concern this generates," Shanahan told reporters traveling back with him from his trip to Afghanistan, the Middle East, and Europe.
"Very deliberately, we have not made any decisions, we have identified the steps we would take to make those decisions," Shanahan said.
He added that military planners had done the initial analysis and he would start reviewing it Sunday.
Some politicians took to social media to denouce the plans and to question Trump's characterization of the border as an "emergency:"
I’ll tell you what’s an emergency:
Separated families Gun violence Climate change
Those are some real emergencies we're facing — not a pointless border wall.
Protests have also been called by various organzations in different states including New York, Texas, and California. Advocates from MoveOn.org said, “Donald Trump has declared a #FakeNationalEmergency—an illegal power grab from an unhinged man to push his racist, dangerous policies,” MoveOn.org states on its site for protests taking place on Presidents Day, Feb.18.
Officials have said that the administration had found nearly US$7 billion to reallocate to the wall, including about US$3.6 billion from the military construction budget and US$2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction fund.
The U.S. defense official said Shanahan would meet with the service secretaries in the coming days to pick which specific projects the money should come from.
Shanahan said that planners had identified the different sources of money that could be used, but he had not decided specifically what projects it would impact and ultimately it was his decision.
"I am not required to do anything," he said.
Shanahan said he did not expect to take money away from projects like military housing.
Poor standards of military housing were highlighted recently, which described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers.
"Military housing, what’s been interesting- I’ve received a number of letters, I’ve had lots of feedback, do not jeopardize projects that are underway," Shanahan said.
"As we step our way through the process we’ll use good judgment," Shanahan said.
"We are following the law, using the rules and we're not bending the rules," Shanahan said.