The Pentagon said Monday it was diverting $1 billion in funds toward construction of Donald Trump’s long-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The funds are the first to be allocated under Trump’s national emergency declaration, which bypassed Congress earlier this year to secure cash for construction of the president’s central 2016 campaign promise.
The money should construct about 60 miles of 18-foot fencing, as well as improve infrastructure such as roads and lighting.
The fencing will be erected in El Paso, Texas, and Yuma, Arizona.
Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan said federal law gave the Department of Defense “the authority to construct roads and fences and to install lighting to block drug-smuggling corridors across international boundaries of the United States in support of counter-narcotic activities of federal law enforcement agencies."
Donald Trump Jr. reacted to the announcement by claiming that “Christmas came early.”
However, the move was immediately denounced by Democratic senators, who signed a letter saying they “strongly objected” to the transfer without the Pentagon seeking “approval of the congressional defense committees and in violation of provisions in the defence appropriation itself," CNN reported.
Trump declared a national emergency in February after Congress refused his demand for nearly $6 billion to construct the wall.
Democrats, along with 12 Republicans, passed a resolution in March condemning the declaration, which Trump subsequently vetoed.
A planned vote Tuesday by House Democrats to override Trump’s veto looks likely to fail.
The transfer of funds from the Pentagon caps a remarkable few days for Trump, who was cleared of conspiring with Russia during the 2016 election following a nearly two-year investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
Cover image: Part of the U.S./Mexican border fence is seen on June 22, 2018 in El Paso, Texas. The Trump administration created a policy of 'zero tolerance' creating confusion for some people seeking to immigrate to the United States. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)