Former GOP Congressman Charlie Dent isn’t hiding his feelings about President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, telling CNN on Friday that the move was “beyond the pale.”
Dent’s comments came minutes before President Donald Trump announced his intention to declare a national emergency.
Asked by CNN’s Jim Sciutto if he believes Republicans in Congress will join with Democrats in an effort to overrule the president’s declaration, Dent didn’t mince words in a message to his former colleagues in the Capitol.
“Oh, Jim, they better block this,” Dent said. “This is simply beyond the pale. It is outrageous. It breaks the law.”
Dent, a former chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, took issue with Trump’s plan to raid military construction funds to pay for his proposed wall.
“I was the guy who wrote the military construction bill for the appropriations committee before I left Congress,” he added. Trump’s declaration will shift $3.6 billion in military construction funds towards building a wall on the southern border.
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“But the bottom line is the president cannot move money from a defense purpose to a non-defense purpose,” Dent added. “The budget law prohibits that. There is a strict firewall.”
Dent explained that the Pentagon can reach out to the Appropriations Committee and request the transfer of defense funds that have already been appropriated, but that Trump’s declaration “blows up that arrangement.”
An exasperated Dent pointed out that it’s highly unlikely that Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.), chair of the military construction subcommittee, or Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chair of the full appropriations committee, would have signed off on the transfer of funds for the wall.
“This is outrageous,” he added, arguing that a hypothetical Democratic president would be faced with opposition for an order transferring funds from the F-35 program towards homelessness.