MUNICH, Germany (February 14, 2020) — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday defended his decision to divert billions of dollars in Defense Department funding to help pay for completion of the nation's southern border wall.
Esper was asked by a reporter about criticism from some Democrats and Republicans in Congress who claim the diversion of funds is contrary to the constitutional authority of Congress.
“Border security is national security,” Esper said, “and national security is our mission.”
He added, “The action we took is legal under the law, and so it should be no surprise, and I'll just leave it at that for now.”
Esper spoke on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich.
The Pentagon announced on Thursday that Esper approved shifting $3.8 billion in funds that Congress had previously authorized for F-35 fighter aircraft and other military programs. The money is being diverted to help the Department of Homeland Security build portions of the border wall. The Pentagon indicated that more such actions could be coming to provide additional funding for the project.