Wed | Aug 5, 2020

Appeals court: Trump wrongly diverted $2.5B for border wall

Published:Friday | June 26, 2020 | 5:20 PM
In this June 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump tours a section of the border wall in San Luis, Arizona. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A federal appeals court on Friday ruled against the Trump administration in its transfer of $2.5 billion from military construction projects to build sections of the US border wall with Mexico, ruling it illegally sidestepped Congress, which gets to decide how to use the funds.

In two opinions, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with a coalition of border states and environmental groups that contended the money transfer was unlawful and that building the wall would pose environmental threats.

The rulings were the latest twist in the legal battle that has largely gone Trump’s way.

Last July, the Supreme Court allowed the $2.5 billion to be spent while the litigation continued, blunting the impact of the latest appeals court action.

The administration has already awarded much of the money, including a $1.3-billion job in Arizona that was announced last month.

Trump visited Yuma, Arizona, on Tuesday to mark the completion of the 200th mile of border wall during his administration, much of it with the transferred military funds that the 9th Circuit panel found illegal.

After the $2.5 billion transfer of military funds, the Pentagon diverted another $3.6 billion that an appeals court in New Orleans ruled in January could be spent.

Still, critics of Trump’s wall praised the rulings on Friday for upholding the Constitution, which grants Congress the power of the purse.

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