Pentagon May Lose Reprogramming Authority Over Wall, Smith Says

The Pentagon will be stripped of its ability to shift funds within its budget next year if it doesn’t get buy-in from the congressional defense committees for reprogramming $2.5b in defense funds for the border wall, said Rep. Adam Smith, chairman of House Armed Services Cmte.

  • “We will zero out their reprogramming authority for fiscal year 2020,” Smith, D-Wash, said in an interview. “That is our position,” he said referring, to Democrats on both the Armed Services and Appropriations panel
  • NOTE: The annual defense authorization bill and defense spending bill carry reprogramming authorities and instructions for the Pentagon; traditionally the Defense Department has to receive agreement to move some monies from one account to another from the leaders of armed services and appropriations in House and Senate
    • Pentagon has been tasked to move $2.5b into a counter-drug fund that President Trump wants to use to build a border wall; there’s concern in Congress that Pentagon leaders won’t formally ask for authority to take funds from other programs and put them in the counter-drug account
  • “It would be a big mistake” for the Pentagon not to inform Congress, said Rep. Mac Thornberry, the top Republican on the HASC
    • “It would change the dynamic between the executive and legislative branch,” Thornberry of Texas, said in an interview; he said he wanted to see how the Pentagon goes about the reperogramming before taking steps to take away the authority

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Roxana Tiron in Washington at

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