The Washington Post reports the White House administration has directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find budget funds that could be redirected from $13.9 billion in disaster relief funds the agency received from Congress last February. The money was earmarked for disaster relief projects in areas devastated by Hurricanes Irma, María and Harvey, as well as wildfire recovery in California.
Trump has indicated that he may just declare a national emergency at the border with Mexico, which would allow him to bypass Congress and divert military construction funds to the wall. The standoff between Trump and Congressional Democrats over more than $5 billion for a border wall has turned into a three-week partial government shutdown.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said last month that he "stood with [Trump] to secure our borders," didn't seem so sure of the president's plan on Friday.
The bill also provides disaster spending that will help Florida begin to rebuild following Hurricane Michael. Pass the bill! [2/2]— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) December 21, 2018
DeSantis told the Tampa Bay Times it would "not be acceptable" for the president to divert funds meant for disaster relief to a border wall.
"We have people that are counting on that," DeSantis said. "If they backfill it immediately after the government opens, that’s fine, but I don’t want that to be where that money is not available. … "My sense, just as somebody who studied the Constitution, the president wouldn't be able to just appropriate his own money under any circumstances. You may be able to repurpose some money. I'm not sure how that works."
Meanwhile, the New York Times reports Marianna, a Panhandle town hit hard by Hurricane Michael where federal jobs dominate, is struggling more because of the government shutdown caused by the border wall fight.
"I voted for [Trump], and he’s the one who’s doing this," Crystal Minton, a prison employee, told the Times. "I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting."
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