Lowey, Roybal-Allard, Quigley and Yarmuth Call on OMB to Release Documents Detailing Raided Funds for the President’s Manufactured National Emergency Declaration

March 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON — House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-NY), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Chairman Mike Quigley (D-IL), and House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) today sent a letter to Russell Vought, the Acting Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), requesting the release of information and documents detailing how the Trump administration plans to raid previously appropriated funds for his national emergency declaration and border wall.

“The President’s announcement to spend up to $6.725 billion in additional funding for construction of a border wall or barrier came at the end of bipartisan negotiations on an agreed-to funding level of $1.375 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 for border security,” the letter states. “However, important budgetary details of the plan have not yet been provided, including the specific funding sources and additional authorities that would be used and the programs, projects, and activities from which funds would be diverted.” 

“As the Article I branch, it is essential that Congress remains at the center of funding decisions, especially decisions that Congress has spent considerable time debating and negotiating,” the members write. “We have significant concerns with the Administration’s plan, and we are frustrated by the lack of transparency from the Administration.”

The Chairs are requesting that OMB provide them with the requested information by March 22, 2019.

Full text of the letter below:

 

The Honorable Russell Vought

Acting Director

Office of Management and Budget

725 17th Street, NW

Washington, DC  20503

Dear Acting Director Vought:

The President’s announcement to spend up to $6.725 billion in additional funding for construction of a border wall or barrier came at the end of bipartisan negotiations on an agreed-to funding level of $1.375 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 for border security.  The executive action plan further specified that the $6.725 billion would be used sequentially as follows: $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund, up to $2.5 billion under the Department of Defense funds transferred for Support for Counterdrug Activities (10 U.S.C. § 284), and up to $3.6 billion reallocated from Department of Defense military construction projects under the President’s declaration of a national emergency (10 U.S.C. § 2808).  However, important budgetary details of the plan have not yet been provided, including the specific funding sources and additional authorities that would be used and the programs, projects, and activities from which funds would be diverted. 

As the Article I branch, it is essential that Congress remains at the center of funding decisions, especially decisions that Congress has spent considerable time debating and negotiating.  We have significant concerns with the Administration’s plan, and we are frustrated by the lack of transparency from the Administration.  Congress should receive adequate information to consider the use of the $6.725 billion referenced in the President’s executive action plan.  The executive action plan also needs to be considered in the context of fast-approaching deadlines for a budget resolution and decisions about the discretionary cap levels for the appropriations process, as well as for Article I equities more broadly.  To that end, we request that you provide the following documents and information:

(1) All documents prepared for or relating to meetings about or decisions by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director, Acting Director, Deputy Director, Associate Director(s), Deputy Associate Director(s), or any other OMB or White House official or staff concerning the President’s executive action plan to use up to $6.725 billion to build a border wall, including statements of conclusions and background materials, received or produced by OMB in relation to interagency meetings or discussions relating to the President’s executive action plan.

(2) All documents relating to the budgetary details of the President’s executive action plan to use up to $6.725 billion to build a border wall, including information on all affected appropriations and Treasury Appropriation Fund Symbols (TAFS) by fiscal year and by program, project, or activity.

(3) All documents since January 20, 2017 relating to any OMB Budget Data Request or any other OMB request to agencies to identify funding available to build a border wall or to otherwise fund border security or counterdrug activities at the border.

(4) All documents relating to the authorized, planned, or intended use of the $6.725 billion prior to any consideration or determination that such amounts may be used instead to build a border wall, including all documents relating to:

  1. The authorized, planned, or intended use of the “first tranche” of approximately $242 million to be expended under the Treasury Forfeiture Fund (TFF);
  2. The authorized, planned, or intended use of the “second tranche” of approximately $359 million to be expended under the TFF;
  3. The authorized, planned, or intended use of the approximately $2.5 billion under the Department of Defense funds transferred for Support for Counterdrug Activities under 10 U.S.C. § 284;
  4. The authorized, planned, or intended use of the approximately $3.6 billion reallocated from the Department of Defense military construction projects under the President’s declaration of a national emergency pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 2808.

(5) Any documents, including any guidance or instructions to agencies, relating to the de-obligation of funds, delay in obligation or expenditure, or any other change in the rate of obligation and expenditure involving the potential or planned use of such funds to carry out the President’s executive action plan.

(6) All documents relating to any spend plan for any appropriation account affected or relevant to the President’s executive action plan to use up to $6.725 billion to build a border wall, including documents exchanged between or among OMB and the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, or the Department of the Treasury. 

(7) All documents relating to each apportionment and reapportionment for FY 2019, including department or agency requests to OMB, for each affected or relevant TAFS related to the President’s executive action plan. This also includes all apportionment and reapportionment documentation for any TAFS from which funds would be contributed, to which funds would be contributed, from which transfers would be made, to which transfers would be made, in which transfers or reprogrammings would occur, or that is otherwise relevant in tallying (a) the “$601 million” amount described by the Administration from the TFF; (b) the “up to $2.5 billion” amount described by the Administration pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284; and (c) the “up to $3.6 billion” amount described by the Administration pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 2808.

(8) All documents relating to the legal or programmatic basis upon which OMB apportions or reapportions any TAFS to carry out the President’s executive action plan, including any Administration legal opinion(s) prepared in whole or in part by, or in consultation with, OMB, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice, the National Security Council, or the White House Counsel’s Office.

(9) All documents relating to the potential, planned, or completed obligations or outlays incurred for each appropriation and TAFS or any other budget execution steps to carry out the President’s executive action plan or in anticipation of potential use related to the plan.

(10) All other documents relating to the President’s executive action plan, including documents relating to (a) the Department of Homeland Security’s identification of priorities for potential construction of a border wall and the relation to supporting the use of the armed forces, in accordance with 10 U.S.C. § 2808; (b) the Department of Homeland Security’s request of support from the Department of Defense pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284 and any response from the Department of Defense; and (c) any contractual awards or modifications or any other changes to contracting to carry out the President’s executive action plan. 

While the President has issued a national emergency proclamation, our committees are still responsible for performing their constitutional oversight responsibilities.  As such, given the speed with which we believe the Administration may be acting in response to the emergency proclamation, we request that you produce the requested documents and information no later than March 22, 2019.

We appreciate your time and attention to this urgent matter.

 

Sincerely,

 

John Yarmuth                                                              Nita M. Lowey

Chairman                                                                    Chairwoman

House Committee on the Budget                               House Appropriations Committee

 

 

 

 

Mike Quigley                                                               Lucille Roybal-Allard

Chairman                                                                    Chairwoman

House Appropriations Committee                             House Appropriations Committee

Subcommittee on Financial Services                          Subcommittee on Homeland Security

and General Government

 

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116th Congress