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Wisconsin joins lawsuit challenging $3.8B funding for border wall

Wisconsin is joining a coalition of states in filing a lawsuit challenging the Trump Administration’s use of $3.8 billion to pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gov. Tony Evers authorized Attorney General Josh Kaul to join the lawsuit on Tuesday. The lawsuit argues the federal Department of Defense’s diversion of already allocated money to the construction of a border wall is an unconstitutional violation of Congress’s appropriation of power.

In a press release, Evers said President Donald Trump’s administration “circumvented the will of Congress” by redirecting billions of dollars to build the wall in what he called “a wasteful use of taxpayer dollars.”

Defense Secretary Mark Esper approved the $3.8 billion border wall request from the Department of Homeland Security on Feb. 13. The largest reduction, $1.5 million, comes from the National Guard. The rest comes from other defense priorities, such as shipbuilding and various aircraft projects.

Evers’ office said the change diverts more than $100 million that would have been spent on military equipment made exclusively by Wisconsin companies. His office also said an additional $97 million in projects are at risk of losing funding to pay for the border wall.

In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the diversion of money violates the principles of separation of powers, the Presentment Clause and the Appropriations Clause of the U.S. Constitution by usurping Congress’s appropriation powers. It also accuses the Trump administration of failing to satisfy the legal requirements necessary to divert the money and disregarding the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to consider the likely environmental effect of construction.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is leading the coalition, which includes the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.


About Michaela Paukner, mpaukner@wislawjournal.com

Michaela Paukner is the legal reporter for the Wisconsin Law Journal. She can be reached at (414) 225-1825 or by email at mpaukner@wislawjournal.com.

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