Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, US Army North Commander, speaks with Joint Forces Land Component personnel and USAF attorneys at Lackland AFB, Texas that are supporting border operations. DOD photo.
President Trump on Tuesday repeatedly threatened a partial government shutdown if Congress doesn’t allocate billions of dollars to build a wall at the border.
The move would not directly impact the Defense Department, because Trump signed a fiscal 2019 “minibus” funding bill for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education in September. However, the rest of the government is only funded through Dec. 21, and it’s likely DOD would be called to fill in any security shortfalls caused by a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security.
“If we don’t get what we want, one way or the other, whether it’s through you, through military, through anything you want to call [it], I will shut down the government,” said Trump during a contentious meeting with Senate Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Chuck Schumer at the White House.
During the meeting, Trump said he was “proud to shutdown the government for border security,” and in an early morning tweet he said that, “If the Democrats do not give us the votes to secure our Country, the Military will build the remaining sections of the wall. They know how important it is!”
Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis said the Defense Department has not plans at this time to help build the wall.
"However, Congress has provided options under Title 10 US Code that could permit the Department of Defense to fund border barrier projects, such as in support of counter drug operations or national emergencies," he said.
The President’s tweet comes roughly 24 hours after the Pentagon announced it would start withdrawing US troops from the border, with the intent of bringing hundreds of US service members home before the holidays.
“Some units have completed their mission and they have already started to partially redeploy. Other units have been identified to rotate home and will be returning home over the next several weeks,” Army Col. Rob Manning told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday.
There are still about 5,200 Active Duty troops at the southern border, down from a peak of about 5,900, Manning said. The Associated Press on Monday reported that some 2,200 US troops would be pulled from the border before the holiday, leaving about 3,000 Active Duty service members to man the border from Texas, Arizona, and California. In addition, there are still about 2,300 Guardsmen at the border, reported AP.
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