President Joe Biden is being investigated by a government agency over whether he broke the law by stopping construction of former President Donald Trump‘s signature border wall, Politico reported Tuesday.
This comes amid the deteriorating situation at the U.S.-Mexico border, which has seen a surge in migrant crossings.
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The day he was sworn in, Biden halted construction of the wall, despite Congress having approved $1.4 billion for the project as part of a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus package passed in December.
The Government Accountability Office (GOA), according to Politico, confirmed this week that it is launching a review into whether the president broke any laws by freezing the funds, a breach of budget rules regulating Congress’ “power of the purse.”
Biden, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) said, should have been aware of the rule, with the president having previously served as a Delaware senator for over three decades.
“He was in the Congress a long time,” Blunt told Politico. “He knows it’s the Congress’ job to authorize how the money is spent and the president’s job to spend it efficiently.”
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Even if the GAO rules that Biden has illegally frozen border wall funding, Politico noted, he is unlikely to face any formal punishment.
The president’s pause on funding—which his administration described as a “programmatic delay” like Trump’s did—was announced publicly via presidential proclamation. The Biden administration has also pledged to release the money if the pause violated congressional intent, per the news outlet.
The Biden administration said the halt will give them time to figure out where the cash should be spent, with a spokesperson for the the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) claiming it is “a necessary and responsible step for prudent management of federal funds.”
Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Richard Shelby (Ala.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), asked the GAO to look at whether the commander-in-chief exceeded his authority and violated a 1974 law that bars a president from altering funding approved by Congress.
The pause on funding “directly contributed” to that wave of border-crossers, Senate Republicans said in their request last week for the GAO to comment on the matter, per Politico. Over 70 House GOP members followed Tuesday in requesting a GAO opinion, which the agency typically provides whenever a member of Congress asks for one.
Biden is also coming under scrutiny for halting the funding just as Trump faced lawsuits after he redirected $2.5 billion in military construction funds to the building of the border wall amid a fight with Democrats over funding levels.
“The Biden administration has to be really careful about doing stuff like this, because otherwise they’re just going to be doing the exact thing the Trump administration did — just at the other end of the policy spectrum,” Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, a manager at the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, told Politico.
The obstruction of congressionally approved funds by both White Houses has prompted Democratic Rep. John Yarmuth (Ky.), the chair of the House Budget Committee, to review the GAO’s response and to “reassert and strengthen” Congress’ spending powers, a committee spokesperson told Politico.
The congressman will also reintroduce legislation to “increase transparency around executive spending,” the spokesperson stated—with Politico noting that it is unclear if the Biden administration will back the bill, which would require the OMB to make public its instructions for spending money.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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NYC Mayor Adams’ budget cuts slash total number of police and education funds
“No city should be left to handle a national humanitarian crisis largely on its own, and without the significant and timely support we need from Washington, D.C., today’s budget will only be the beginning,” said New York City Democratic Mayor Eric Adams about his decision to make budget cuts as a result of the overwhelming migrant crisis.
However, those who will suffer from budget cuts to the city’s services to offset the cost of dealing with the ever-increasing number of migrants are those that are in place to make the city better.
“The cuts will see police freeze hiring and bring the total number of police officers below 30,000. It would further slash the education budget by $1 billion over two years and affect a litany of other agencies” reports Just The News.
Albeit, Adams admitted: “In all my time in government, this is probably one of the most painful exercises I’ve gone through.” More than 110,000 migrants have arrived in New York City over the past year, including roughly 13,000 sent from Texas by GOP Governor Greg Abbott as part of his ongoing bussing plan to send new arrivals to the U.S. to sanctuary cities.
However, similar to other leaders of sanctuary cities, Adams is unwilling to put his money where his mouth is. In September, Adams warned that the crisis would “destroy New York City” and begged the federal government to pay for his mess.
“I’m gonna tell you something, New Yorkers, never in my life have I had a problem that I didn’t see an ending to. I don’t see an ending to this,” Adams said at the time. “The federal government needs to do its job. We need the federal government, the Congress members, the Senate and the president to do their job: close the borders,” said Adams’ advisor Ingrid Lewis Martin insisted in early October. “And until you close the borders, you need to come on with a full-on decompression strategy where you can take all of our migrants and move them through our 50 states.”
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