Pentagon Informs Congress $1B Authorized to Start Building Trump's Border Wall; Democrats Object

Donald Trump's presidency is doing irreversible damage to this country, and, throughout the past two years, there are times at which it feels like the erosion of our norms, institutions, and democracy itself accelerates precipitously.

Frequently, those accelerations follow a significant blow to the structures of accountability which might have provided some check on Trump's power.

As I said yesterday, the delivery of a Mueller report that came well short of consequences for Trump — or the burial of recommendations for consequences by the Justice Department — is a watershed moment. Trump is exponentially empowered. Another acceleration commences.

And of course we return yet again to building the wall. Barbara Starr and Jeremy Herb at CNN report:
The Pentagon notified Congress Monday night that it has authorized the transfer of $1 billion to begin new wall construction along the U.S.-Mexico border, drawing immediate objections from Democratic lawmakers.

A Pentagon budget reprogramming notification sent to Capitol Hill on Monday and obtained by CNN indicates that up to $1 billion will go toward building 57 miles of fencing, improving roads, and other measures on the southern border. [The administration said previously it plans to shift an additional $1.5 billion at some point in the future.]

The Department of Defense authorized the Army Corp of Engineers to begin planning and construction for the project Monday night. The department will direct the funds toward 18-foot-high fencing along the Yuma and El Paso sections of the border, according to a letter acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan sent to Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

...Every Democratic senator on the Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittees on Defense and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies signed on to a letter written to Shanahan objecting to moving $1 billion in personnel funds to counter drug funds to go toward the wall. The senators say the Pentagon did not seek permission before notifying the committee of the transfer.

"We strongly object to both the substance of the funding transfer, and to the Department implementing the transfer without seeking the approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defense appropriation itself," the senators wrote. "As a result, we have serious concerns that the Department has allowed political interference and pet projects to come ahead of many near-term, critical readiness issues facing our military."
Trump is bypassing Congress to rule by fiat, in order to build a monument to his vile nativist agenda along the southern border. That is what's happening here. An authoritarian is building a sad fence to prove how much he hates immigrants on behalf of his bigoted base of deplorable cultists.

And we're expected to pretend that this fits within the realm of normal presidential policy. The fuck it does.

I absolutely refuse to indulge the sickening pretense that this authoritarian racist throwing a tantrum to waste precious funding on a symbol of his white supremacy is politics as usual. It is not. It is a gross expansion of his authoritarianism and a further erosion of our democratic norms. It is an aggressive assault on basic decency.

Fuck this fence and fuck him.

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