It appears that President Donald Trump's long-promised border wall has cleared another barrier. The Washington Post reports the president will use his national emergency powers to transfer an additional $7.2 billion in Pentagon funds for border wall construction this year, although neither the White House nor the Pentagon confirmed or commented on the report. The Trump Administration recently received another legal green light from a federal appeals court that freed up $3.6 billion for wall construction.
Edward Turzanski, national security expert with the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), tells KTRH that efforts by Democrats and liberal groups to block Trump's ability to use Pentagon funds for the wall have largely failed. "The courts recognized that the president under Article 2 has very wide powers to protect and defend the country against foreign threats as he perceives them," says Turzanski. "I think on the issue of separation of powers, this is a consequential ruling, because it speaks to the commander-in-chief's power to use funds the way he sees appropriate to defend the country."
Despite the reported new funding, the Trump Administration will still likely fall short of the president's stated goal of 450 miles of new fencing completed this year. The Department of Homeland Security now says they're on track to have 400-450 miles completed or under construction by the end of 2020. "I think that (Trump) will be more able to show progress on the wall, rather than completion," says Turzanski.
Still, with the ability to tap into billions of Defense Department funds, the president is in prime position to eventually deliver on one of his signature campaign promises. "The Pentagon has a rather large budget, so there are lots of pots of money from which (Trump) can take the funding," says Turzanski. "I think the most important thing is the establishment by the courts of the principle that he has a right to do this."