Acting Defense Sec: WALL Won't Keep Us Safe, But The Old Man Wants It, So...
Sucks to be you, Pat Shanahan! The acting Defense secretary is currently under investigation for preferential treatment of his former bosses at Boeing, who just got busted letting planes fall out of the sky if buyers skimped on the upgrades. Shanahan was never a favorite of Trump's, and now his chances of getting made Big Boy For Real Sec Def are decreasing by the day. Which means that he's going through all this shit for nothing! Womp womp!
What shit, you ask? Well! Last night Shanahan announced the first tranche of the "found" money the DoD is shifting over to fund WALL in defiance of Congress's constitutional spending powers. The Defense Department will be transferring the cash from accounts meant to support military personnel into "anti-drug funding," which they've decided means they can use it to build "18-foot-high pedestrian fencing, constructing and improving roads, and installing lighting within the Yuma and El Paso Sectors of the border." Already pissed off about the fake EMERGY declaration, although not pissed enough to override a veto, congresspeople on both sides of the aisle are hopping mad that the Trump administration dicked them around for months, shut down the government, forced them to negotiate for wall funding in good faith, and then said HA HA SUCKERS, WE'RE JUST GOING TO STEAL IT FROM THE RAINY DAY FUND ANYWAY!
This morning, the acting secretary appeared before the House Armed Services Committee to make his case for DoD's 2020 budget, where he was forced to admit that reallocating billions in defense spending to Trump's vanity wall and spending upwards of $200 million to park troops in Texas to string razor wire does not, in fact, promote military readiness. (Particularly when the wire keeps getting expropriated to secure homes in Tijuana.) Bloomberg reports:
Shifting military funds to build President Donald Trump's wall at the southern border will undermine the Pentagon in the future, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan acknowledged, yet he said he was following an order from his commander-in-chief.
"We said, 'Here are the risks longer-term to the department' and those risks were weighed,"' Shanahan said Tuesday at a House Armed Services Committee hearing. "Given a legal order from the commander-in-chief, we are executing on that order."
Whaaaaaaat? You mean this is a pointless exercise meant to throw red meat to the knuckle-dragging rubes? Well, shit, next you'll be telling us that Mexico won't be paying for it!
HASC Chair Adam Smith pointedly dropped this letter denying DoD's "request" to re-appropriate the funds during Shanahan's testimony.
Which is baller, but likely won't change much. As American Enterprise Institute research fellow Richard Berger told Military Times, the real threat is to block the Defense Department's 2020 spending priorities now and tie their hands in the future.
Smith's denial also came as he warned the Pentagon that its effort to reprogram money without getting the permission of the four defense committees in the House and Senate would result in it no longer having any reprogramming privileges at all.
To stop DoD's use of the $1 billion now, Berger said the House would have to work with the Republican-controlled Senate and quickly pass specific legislation blocking that specific use. Given the pace and political reality of Congress, that's unlikely, and DoD would have spent the funds before any such legislation could progress.
In reality, Berger said, "there's nothing Congress can do to keep DoD from obligating and moving [the funds] to those 57 miles on the border."
It's more likely DoD's overall reprogramming authority would be rescinded through a future debate — one that Republicans on the Senate side likely do not welcome, Berger said.
Now, we are under no illusions that House Republicans care enough to actually do anything about Trump's naked power grab, but they are at least irate that he abused the flexibility Congress gave the DoD to move money around for legitimate defense priorities.
Military Times crunched the numbers and found that the bases most likely to face cuts when Trump reallocates $4 billion to fund WALL are in New York, Texas, Washington, North Dakota, Wyoming, and New Mexico -- all of which have representatives who have to run for re-election in 2020. Congress was already pissed off about the border funding bait and switch debacle, and now it's trapped between the stupid WALL promises Trump made to the base and the GOP's supposedly ironclad support of the military.
So, for those of you keeping track at home, Shanahan has thrown away a high-paying job at Boeing to come work at the Defense Department. His job is to pilfer funds meant for military readiness to pay for Trump's stupid Fuck You Mexico Wall. He's forced to go before Congress and acknowledge that the reallocation hurts military spending. While he's there, Democrats hand him a letter that says, "If you go nuclear, so will we. And our button's bigger." The president is turning the Defense Department into a political football and sending him out to be ritually humiliated. And, oh by the way, he's never getting to be Secretary of Defense.
We might feel sorry for Pat Shanahn if he weren't an arms lobbyist who willingly signed on to the most corrupt administration since the Teapot Dome scandal. Lie down with dogs, wake up with fleas.
YOU FEELIN' ITCHY YET, PAT?
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.