U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, (left) and former, now ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee Chairman and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, spoke after a tour of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base on Monday, October 23, 2017. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
Thornberry, in a roundtable with reporters Tuesday, said he opposes using Defense dollars for “non-defense purposes.” While Trump has argued that the border wall is a defense purpose, “it seems to me they ought to fund their border security needs on their own and not be taking it from other accounts.”
“I am opposed to using defense dollars for anything else,” he said, saying while “border security is very important, it is not a responsibility of the Department of Defense.”
Thornberry is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee. Turner is a senior Republican on the committee.
Thornberry said it’s unclear how much of the military construction balance is not obligated, and critics have said they are concerned that Trump would have to “claw back” appropriations previously approved in order to reach his $5 billion goal.
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Thornberry said his understanding is that if the money is obligated, then it’s safe from being taken for use on the border wall but cautioned that “because a dollar is not yet obligated does not mean it doesn’t have a purpose.”
“Maybe they don’t have a contract,” he said, saying that military construction money sometimes takes a little longer to be contracted.
“I don’t want anyone to think that just because you have an unobligated balance that extra money is laying around,” he said.