U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper instructed Pentagon budget planners to move $545 million earmarked for construction projects to the border wall with Mexico. Many of the redirected funds involved projects in Europe to counter Russian aggression, according to Bloomberg.
On Monday, Esper sent a memo to the Pentagon’s comptroller and other officials, where he listed several projects to have their funds redirected, which are located in Norway, Germany, Spain and other countries with a total worth of more than $200 million funds.
These projects are part of the European Deterrence Initiative, with the goal of bolstering allies and countering Russia’s growing influence in Europe. The funds would be used on infrastructure such as military aircraft, fuel, munitions and cargo.
Congress members of both parties have been enraged by the moves of Esper and his predecessors in the Trump administration, Bloomberg reported. Esper’s recent initiative would be seen as conflicting with the National Defense Strategy, which prioritizes “great power competition” with Russia and China.
Pentagon officials responded and said that the loss of funding for these projects were only temporary.
“Overseas projects have not been canceled but deferred because the projects will not be awarded until FY 2021 or later,” Pentagon spokesman Chris Sherwood said in an emailed statement.
However, even if the fundings are merely delayed, Congress would have to fill in the program funds for their continuation, according to Bloomberg.