WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats are moving on two fronts to block President Donald Trump from using special emergency powers to transfer money from military base construction projects like new schools to pay for new fences along the U.S.-Mexico border.
First, Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York announced Tuesday that he will force a vote to reject the plan, saying the vote would give lawmakers a chance to block Trump “from stealing military funding from their states to foot the bill for an expensive and ineffective wall he promised Mexico would pay for.”
A similar measure passed this spring with 12 Senate Republican votes but was vetoed by Trump. The rules allow Schumer to retry every few months and don’t allow Republicans to block the vote.
Perhaps more ominously for Trump is a potential vote on Thursday in the powerful Appropriations panel, where several members agree with Democrats that Trump is overstepping by reordering spending decisions by Congress to fund wall projects that have otherwise been rejected.
A top Appropriations Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, said he will move to amend a $694 billion Pentagon funding bill to block Trump from diverting money intended for military projects to the wall.
The Pentagon last week identified $3.6 billion worth of military construction projects it’s willing to kill to build 175 miles (282 kilometers) of border wall. The projects included a $63 million middle school in GOP Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s state of Kentucky though most of them are located outside the continental U.S.