Washington – Connecticut has joined 18 other states in a lawsuit that aims to block the Trump administration from diverting $3.8 billion intended for the National Guard and military equipment to the construction of a border wall.
The lawsuit says the transfer of money is unconstitutional. and ignores the environmental impact of construction, which poses a threat to more than 100 plants and animal species.
“Use of these additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent and in violation of the U.S. Constitution,” said the lawsuit, filed in federal court in California on Tuesday.
The states also charge that the administration is disregarding the National Environmental Policy Act by failing the consider the environmental impact that construction of the wall could pose to more than 100 sensitive plant and animal species on the U.S.-Mexican border.
After Congress failed last year to appropriate the amount of funds requested by President Donald Trump last year to build a wall between the United States and Mexico, the president declared a national emergency and shifted Pentagon money to wall construction.
Trump aims to do the same this year, kicking off another fight with Democrats and worrying some Republicans whose districts or states depend on the diverted military funding.
“I will not let Trump steal taxpayer funds, drain Connecticut’s economy, and compromise our safety and security to build a massive money pit designed to foment fear and hate,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said. “We do not want this wall, we do not need this wall, and we will not pay for this wall—both Mexico and Congress delivered that message loud and clear.”
The Pentagon said last month it would cut two of the six F-35B’s whose funding was appropriated by Congress last year. Pratt & Whitney builds the engines for those expensive versions of the F-35, developed solely for the Marines and capable of vertical take offs and landings. Cutting two F-35B’s would divert $233 million to the border wall.
The Pentagon also said it will strip $156 million for advanced procurement for the F-35A, a version of the jet fighter used by the Air Force.
Millions more would come from reprograming money from other weapons systems, including the C-130 program, and eliminating all eight MQ-9 Reaper drones that Congress has funded.
Another $2.2 billion would come from the Pentagon’s counter-narcotics program.
And the National Guard and reserves would lose about $1.3 billion in what the reprogramming request describes as unnecessary funding.
Tong said Connecticut’s National Guard would lose funds for 47 Humvees as well as for new C-130 military transportation aircraft, to be flown out of Bradley International Airport. Also lost would be about $8 million the Connecticut National Guard requested for new equipment it says it needs to respond to emergencies in the state.
The reallocation of another $3.8 billion in military funding means the Pentagon has given nearly $10 billion since last year to help pay for a wall between Mexico and the United States.
“Donald Trump cannot override the will of Congress and hijack our money. That’s not how our Constitution works. Once again, the President has left us no choice but to take legal action to protect Connecticut and the rule of law,” Tong said.
He also said the diversion of money from National Guard procurement accounts and military appropriations will hurt Connecticut’s economy, reduce state tax revenues, damage the state’s critical security infrastructure and impair National Guard readiness.
This is the second time the nation’s Democratic attorneys general have sued to prevent the diversion of Pentagon money. They also sued after the Trump administration announced last year it would divert Pentagon funds to the wall.
Besides Connecticut, the states that filed the lawsuit on Tuesday include California, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin.