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19 states sue Trump over plan to divert more defense funding to build border wall

The Trump administration requested the diversion of funds in February. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI
The Trump administration requested the diversion of funds in February. File Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo

March 3 (UPI) -- A group of 18 states sued the Trump administration Tuesday over its latest plans to divert billions of dollars in military funds to the construction of a border wall.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California, came in response to a request last month by the Pentagon to divert $3.8 billion from weapons procurement to wall construction.

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"President [Donald] Trump is risking the safety of every American by diverting taxpayer dollars from our military to fund the same xenophobic campaign promises he's made for the last four years," said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"The courts have already once rejected the president's unlawful attempt to shift funds to his hateful pet project, so as long as this administration continues down the path of illegally subsidizing an ill-advised border wall we will not hesitate to take action," she added.

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Joining New York in the lawsuit were attorneys general representing California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

In a reprogramming request filed Feb. 13, the Pentagon south to shift $2.02 billion in fiscal 2020 defense appropriations and $1.6 billion in fiscal 2020 overseas contingency operations in order to fund construction of the wall.

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On the chopping block are aircraft purchases, including some F-35 joint strike fighters, C-130J cargo aircraft, MQ-9 Reaper drones and P-8 maritime surveillance planes, as well as ground vehicles and naval equipment.

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Aircraft procurement for the Navy and Marine Corps would go down by $558 million if the request is honored, and by $861 million for the Air Force.

President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign was fueled in part by promises to expand the border wall, which began construction in 2006, and continuing construction has been a key priority as he faces re-election in November.

In September 2019, the Pentagon approved reallocation of $3.6 billion in funding for 127 military construction projects to fund 11 border wall construction projects.

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Christen McCurdy contributed to this report.

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