A federal appeals court overturned a lower court ruling on Wednesday, approving the Trump administration to use military construction funds to build a border wall along the country’s border with Mexico.
The decision from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, lifts an injunction issued last month in Texas that blocked the reallocation plan.
In the 2-1 ruling, judges granted the administration’s request to temporarily halt the nationwide injunction from U.S. District Judge David Briones of El Paso. Congress appropriated the $3.6 billion to the Department of Defense for 127 construction projects, Briones had ruled, so the Trump administration shouldn’t divert it to the border wall.
The appeals court judges said the Supreme Court recently halted a similar injunction, but gave no specific reason for ruling in the administration’s favor. The dissenting judge, Stephen Higginson, wrote that the administration did not prove it will suffer irreparable harm without a halt on the injunction.
“Although I agree with my colleagues that this matter presents ‘a substantial case on the merits’ and involves a ‘serious legal question…’ I am unable to agree, without focused panel deliberation and discussion — possibly aided by dialogue with counsel — that the government presently has shown either a likelihood of success on the merits or irreparable harm in the absence of a stay,” Higginson wrote in his dissent.
About $1.8 billion of the funding was originally allocated for projects at overseas bases, including $119 million for storage warehouses at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany and $87 million for storage at Fairford Royal Air Force Base in the United Kingdom.
Last February, Trump declared a national emergency to free up funding for a border wall. The administration announced the reallocation plan in September and drew bipartisan criticism in Congress.
The promise of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was a central piece of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Trump asked for nearly $6 billion to build the border wall in 2018, but Congress only appropriated $1.375 billion for border wall projects.
The ruling doesn’t apply to the use of other funds, including counter-drug and Treasury Forfeiture Funds, that have been designated for wall construction.
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