A government agency is probing whether President Biden broke the law by halting construction of the border wall begun by former President Donald Trump, according to a report.
Biden on his first day in the White House stopped building the wall even though Congress had approved $1.4 billion for it as part of a $900 billion coronavirus stimulus bill passed last December, Politico reported on Tuesday.
The Government Accountability Office has initiated an inquiry into whether the president broke any laws by freezing the funds, a violation of budget rules governing Congress’ “power of the purse.”
The Government Accountability Office has initiated an inquiry into whether the president broke any laws by freezing the funds, a violation of budget rules into Congress’ spending authority.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) said the president, who served Delaware as a senator for more than three decades, should have been aware of the rule.
“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.”
There has been a massive surge of illegal immigrants and unaccompanied children crossing the southern border following Biden’s decision to stop the wall’s construction and his rollback of Trump’s immigration policies, including the Remain in Mexico program that forces migrants to wait outside the US while their asylum applications move through the legal system.
Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, asked the government watchdog to review whether Biden overstepped his authority and broke a 1974 law that prohibits a president from altering funding approved by Congress.
The Biden administration said the halt will give them time to figure out where the cash should be spent, with a spokesperson for the Office of Management and Budget claiming it is “a necessary and responsible step for prudent management of federal funds.”
Biden is facing scrutiny for pausing the funding just as Trump faced a number of lawsuits after he diverted $2.5 billion in military construction funds to construction of the border wall amid a battle 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 administrations has led Rep. John Yarmuth, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, to review the GAO’s response and to “reassert and strengthen” Congress’ spending powers, a panel spokesperson told Politico.
The Kentucky Democrat will also pursue legislation to “increase transparency around executive spending,” the spokesperson said.