President Donald Trump just blindsided Congress and found all the border wall money that he needs — and billions more.
In a column from The American Thinker, conservative author Rovvy Lepor reveals that Congress has over one trillion dollars sitting in what he calls “unobligated balances.”
Lepor cites a former GOP lawmaker in his piece, who stated that the “unobligated balances” would give Trump the ability to very easily build the entire wall along the southern border between the United States and Mexico.
While President Trump is correct to remain committed to building a border barrier and has asked all Cabinet agencies for wall funding, he can fund the entire barrier without having to declare a national emergency.
Instead, he can draw full funding for a complete border barrier from unobligated balances. Unobligated balances “are the amounts of budget authority that have not yet been committed by contract or other legally binding action by the government.”
Former senator Tom Coburn described unobligated balances as “essentially money for nothing.” While in 2012 there was an estimated $687 billion in unobligated balances, unobligated balances in federal and trust funds in FY 2019 is estimated to be a whopping $1,156,136,000,000.
In a recent article, Scot Faulkner advises that President Trump should mine the available funds from unobligated balances to fund the border wall. Faulkner notes that “reallocating unused federal funds” for building the border wall could be done with “the stroke of President Trump’s pen – and a push of a button from the Office of Management and Budget.”
According to Faulkner, unobligated balances were used by President Lyndon Johnson to help fund his Great Society, by both Johnson and Nixon to help with funding for the Vietnam War, to assist with Carter’s expanding domestic programs, to go toward Reagan’s work to bring down the Soviet empire, to help fund both Iraq wars by Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and by President Clinton to help him stay within Republican congressional budget limits.
President Obama never used a budget sweep, allowing $914.8 billion in unspent, unobligated balances to continue to accrue. As a result, there will be an estimated $1.156 trillion in unobligated balances by the end of F.Y. 2019 if these balances are permitted to languish.
Any funds that President Trump can reallocate to building the border barrier without the need for approval to reprogram those funds from the Democrat-controlled House should be allocated for the barrier. However, if President Trump can take the unobligated balances and have the Treasury reclaim that money, it can be used to fully pay for a border barrier, additional border security personnel, and accompanying technology.
Further, other funding can be used to fund other critically important initiatives that would not receive Democrat support. Much of the over $1 trillion in unobligated balances could be used toward paying down the national debt that is currently close to $22 trillion.
This plan would certainly work on multiple levels.
It would not only fully fund the entire wall, but it also appears that there’s nothing Democrats could do to stop Trump.
On top of that, a president using the unobligated funds to finance a project is hardly unprecedented, as detailed by Lepor in the piece above.
It appears all Trump would need to do is order the Treasury Department to reclaim the funds, and then he can use a portion of the $2 trillion in unused federal and trust funds to build the entire wall.