Washington, DC—Today, Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA), Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee within the House Armed Services Committee, met with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to discuss the President raiding $3.6 billion from 127 military construction projects to pay for his border wall. Garamendi oversees all 127 projects as Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.

“Today, I demanded OSD justify and explain why the 127 projects they defunded to pay for Trump’s wall are not important for our national security and military readiness,” Garamendi said. “They could not provide an answer, and I informed them that I will meet with every service branch to get their explanation and justification for this decision.

The President is not a king who can rob the Treasury, and I made it clear that we will not allow the President to ignore the Constitution and essential separation of powers the Framers designed to prevent an autocrat.”

“OSD said it expects Congress to backfill all of the projects they are raiding to fund the President’s vanity wall,” Garamendi continued. “I explained to them that the new Congressional budget agreement prevents us from doing so without raiding funds from other accounts.

I made myself clear: Congress will not backfill these accounts. We will not allow the President to defy the Constitution by circumventing Congress’ power of the purse. This fight is about the very nature of our democracy, and we will not lose.

“OSD couldn’t explain why these 127 projects were irrelevant for our national security, so I explained to them why they are vital to it,” Garamendi continued. “Trump raided over $771 million to pay for his vanity wall from the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), a critical program created in 2014 to reassure our NATO allies after the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Countries like Estonia and Poland are relying on this funding, which is critical to their national security—and the President ripped it away to pay for his wall. Raiding these funds will embolden Vladimir Putin and stymie our ability to combat Russian aggression throughout Eastern Europe.”

“This is a fundamental issue. One that will decide whether we have a Congress that can operate in any meaningful way in the future, and one that will have serious implications on our national security. The Secretary of Defense and the White House can expect an all-out brawl from the Readiness Subcommittee,” Garamendi concluded.

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