WASHINGTON — The Department of Defense is diverting $3.83 billion from elsewhere in its budget to build more of President Trump’s border barrier, according to budget documents reviewed by The Washington Post, setting in motion a broader White House plan to take some $7.2 billion from the Pentagon budget this year for the project as Trump heads into the presidential election.
The Pentagon informed Congress on Thursday of its plans to divert the $3.8 billion from the purchase of aircraft and other equipment and instead use the funds for the construction of border barriers. The Pentagon is moving the money using a counternarcotics law that allows the Defense Department to build fencing for other federal, state, and local agencies in known drug-smuggling corridors.
According to the budget documents, the Pentagon is pulling the funding from two F-35 fighter jets and two Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft for the Marine Corps, one P-8A reconnaissance aircraft for the Navy, and four C-130J transport planes and eight MQ-9 Reaper drones for the Air Force.
In addition, funding will be diverted from programs to update Humvees and trucks for the Army, buy $1.3 billion in ‘new equipment for the National Guard and Reserves, and develop certain US Navy vessels. The Pentagon told Congress that the funding is either in excess of the military’s needs or is not yet needed given the timeline of the programs in question.