Several congressional Republicans have made no secret of the fact that they’re not pleased with Donald Trump’s border wall emergency declaration. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), however, a Trump critic turned Trump cheerleader, has touted the president’s gambit as a great move.
Like the rest of us, the senator doesn’t yet know for sure exactly which funds the administration intends to divert for the project, but at this point, the South Carolinian may not care. Consider this exchange on “Face the Nation” yesterday between CBS News’ Margaret Brennan and Graham:
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president just declared a national emergency in regard to getting the funds for his border wall. In terms of getting those funds though through this emergency action and there’s about $3.6 billion of it that could come from military construction efforts, including construction of a middle school in Kentucky, housing for military families, improvements for bases like Camp Pendleton and Hanscom Air Force Base. Aren’t you concerned that some of these projects that were part of legislation that you helped approve and Congress are now going to possibly be cut out?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well the president will have to make a decision where to get the money. Let’s just say for a moment that he took some money out of the military construction budget. I would say it’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We’ll get them the school they need. But right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands.
We obviously don’t have a national emergency on our hands. Graham’s ally in the Oval Office effectively admitted as much on Friday, declaring publicly that he didn’t really “need” to issue an emergency declaration, but he did so anyway in the interests of convenience and expediency.
Putting that aside for the moment, however, Trump is reportedly prepared to take $3.6 billion from the military construction budget in order to fund a wildly unnecessary border barrier. If this means some children of servicemen and women stationed at Fort Campbell don’t have a school to go to, that’s a price Lindsey Graham is willing to pay.
So to recap, Trump promised Mexico would pay for the wall. Then he said the wall would pay for the wall. The Republican president has now shifted his posture again, concluding that the American military will pay for the wall.
For his part, Trump is confident the Pentagon – which still doesn’t have a permanent Defense secretary because the president hasn’t yet nominated anyone – won’t mind if he raids its budget.
“Some of the generals think that this is more important,” he told reporters on Friday, relying again on anonymous validators who may not exist. “I was speaking to a couple of them. They think this is far more important than what they were going to use it for. I said, ‘What were you going to use it for?’ and I won’t go into details but didn’t sound too important to me.”
Trump added that the wall is “very important for the military because of the drugs that pour in.”
Since the U.S. military is not involved with addressing the domestic drug trade, I’m not at all sure what this was supposed to mean.