U.S. Defense Department is diverting $3.83 billion from various Pentagon accounts to fund the construction of a wall along the American southern border.
A notice has been sent to Congress, which said funding is required to combat drug activities by supporting Department of Homeland Security (DHS), according to The Hill news website,
The notice says the DHS identified areas used by criminal individuals and groups along the border as drug smuggling corridors. To halt smuggling it is necessary to construct additional barriers and roads, it said.
The latest move is the second in a row where defense funds are being directed to the construction of the wall.
Last year, the Trump administration used $6.5 billion in its funds for the wall construction.
The shift in funding has sparked criticism from both Democrats and Republican lawmakers.
In a statement, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy accused Trump of stealing from “our National Guard to pay for his wasteful wall.”
“And by raiding Overseas Contingency Operations funding – funds meant for warfighting in foreign lands – his brash abuse of authority has been raised to the level of the absurd,” he wrote.
The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, Mac Thornberry, said Congress has the responsibility to determine how funds are spent.
“Once those choices have been made, the Department of Defense cannot change them in pursuit of their own priorities without the approval of Congress,” he said in a statement.
Thornberry urged Congress to take action and vowed to work with his colleagues to determine the appropriate steps to take.