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Pentagon budget plan: Border wall funds blocked in House version


House Armed Services Committee members are barring the White House from funneling any Defense Department dollars toward the construction of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.

Committee members are issuing a “blanket prohibition” on border wall spending from the services’ military construction accounts and all department-wide Pentagon coffers, according to legislative language in the committee’s draft version of the military’s budget blueprint for fiscal year 2020.

House lawmakers also included a measure that blocks the Trump administration from moving defense dollars dedicated to counternarcotics operations to any border wall effort.

The border initiatives are part of the $724 billion Pentagon budget plan proposed by House defense lawmakers and released late Sunday night. The House version of the spending plan sets a baseline budget of $655.9 billion for the Defense Department, along with an additional $69 billion to finance ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere as part of the “Overseas Contingency Operations” or wartime funding accounts.

The House proposal, submitted by Washington Democrat and committee chairman Rep. Adam Smith, is $6 billion more than the White House’s total $718 billion budget request for defense and national security in the coming fiscal year, sent to Capitol Hill in February.

Administration officials have proposed pulling funds from the Pentagon’s wartime accounts, to pay for border security efforts — including constructing a new wall. Mr. Smith has been one of the most vocal opponents of the effort to siphon off defense dollars for the wall.

The language included in the House budget bill will “prevent such diversions and to ensure that there is sufficient oversight over the deployment of our service members” currently serving along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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