The acting secretary of defense says he has not yet determined how much money he will redirect to President Donald Trump’s border wall project.
Pat Shanahan, who has been leading the Pentagon since Jim Mattis stepped down Dec. 31, made the comment to reporters flying with him from Germany to Washington on Saturday.
Shanahan said he has a great deal of discretion in deciding how to use the authorities granted to him in Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on Friday. The White House says it expects $6.1 billion from the Pentagon.
Shanahan said he would be working out the details starting Sunday, emphasizing that his mission is to support the border security needs of the Department of Homeland Security.
Defiant in the wake of a stinging budget defeat, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, moving to secure more money for his long-promised wall by exercising a broad interpretation of his presidential powers that is certain to draw stiff legal challenges.
In his emergency proclamation Friday, Trump painted a dark picture of the border as “a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics” and one that threatens “core national security interests.” Overall, though, illegal border crossings are down from a high of 1.6 million in 2000.
His declaration instantly transformed a contentious policy fight into a foundational dispute over the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.