The US Air Force is set to lose money for certain projects, thanks to the Pentagon fund re-appropriation needed to build a wall along America’s southern border.
Last Friday, the Pentagon announced that $1.5 billion of funds from appropriated operations and maintenance and overseas contingency operations will be shifted over to pay for 78.25 miles of fencing. Of that $1.5 billion, $402.3 million will be pulled from USAF programs.
While the money could have been spent to help rebuild several USAF bases ravaged by extreme weather, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said that funding is a tangible matter of interchangeability.
“The funds that the Defense Department used from the Air Force accounts were funds that were not executed. Money is fungible, so the real question is whether the Congress is going to help us with a supplemental for a disaster that happened in October of last year.”
According to Air Force Magazine, several programs will be affected by the money reallocation, including E-3 AWACS upgrades, the Minuteman III ICBM program, the Space Test Program-4 satellite launched and other free funds, which have been created due to reduced costs from existing weapons systems.
One considerable chunk of funding that will be taken was money meant to go to the Afghan Security Forces Fund, siphoning $604 million in total and $71.9 million to the Afghan Air Force,
Ten Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Defense Committee sent a harsh letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, claiming the Department of Defense has ignored decades of precedent and cooperation with the Congress in carrying out a transfer of funds without regard to any consultation with the Appropriations Committee.”
“We have concerns that this reprogramming comes at the expense of the readiness of the Armed Force,” the letter read. “Last week, the Secretary of the Air Force announced that cleanup operations at Tyndall Air Force Base were being impacted by a shortfall in funding. We are dismayed that the department has chosen to prioritize a political campaign promise over the disaster relief needs of our service members, given the finite reprogramming authority available.”
Shanahan, however, replied that he was simply following orders.
“We have a crisis at the border, a national emergency declared by the President,” Shanahan responded. “The Commander-in-Chief has given me a direct legal order to secure the border. I’m securing the border.”
The situation is ongoing.
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