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Border wall money may come at expense of schools for military kids

WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing to pay for President Donald Trump’s much-debated border wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers.

The Pentagon gave Congress a list on Monday that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected. Around 10 percent of the list relates to educational establishments and includes school buildings for the children of service members in places like Germany, Japan, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.

The move comes as a surprise given the Trump administration’s oft-touted support for the sacrifices made by military families and suggests the White House’s desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico outstrips nearly all other issues.

However, of the $1.2 billion in projects related to education, approximately $800 million worth are far in the future, and those funds could readily be used for wall construction and replaced later.

The Pentagon told Congress that just because a project was listed, it “does not mean that the project will, in fact, be used” as a funding source to build sections of the border wall.

Trump earlier in March asked for $8.6 billion in his 2020 budget request to help pay for his promised wall on the U.S-Mexico border to combat illegal immigration and drug trafficking. It drew swift criticism from Democrats.

Trump declared a national emergency in a bid to fund the wall without congressional approval, allowing his administration to use money from the military construction budget, if needed.