Dem Senator spreads ‘reprehensible scandal’ that Trump diverted $10 million from FEMA to ICE, but is it even true?

The Department of Homeland Security is pushing back against “a sorry attempt to push a false agenda” by Democrats claiming the Trump administration diverted funds from FEMA to ICE.

DHS spokesman Tyler Houlton slammed a claim by Sen. Jeff Merkley that $9.75 million in disaster funds earmarked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency was instead transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Democrats were quick to jump in and spread the story once Merkley released a document Tuesday accusing President Donald Trump’s administration of a nearly $10 million transfer of disaster relief, just as a potentially catastrophic hurricane is bearing down on the U.S. east coast.

“This is a scandal,” the Oregon Democrat said in a statement provided to HuffPost. “At the start of hurricane season — when American citizens in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still suffering from FEMA’s inadequate recovery efforts — the administration transferred millions of dollars away from FEMA. And for what? To implement their profoundly misguided ‘zero tolerance’ policy.”

But, as Houlton pointed out, the Department of Homeland Security document noted that disaster relief funding was not at stake but that the money was from the agency’s budgets for travel, training, public engagement and information technology work, CNN reported.

Funding would also be taken from other agencies within the Department of Homeland Security such as TSA and the Coast Guard.

“FEMA will curtail training, travel, public engagement sessions, IT security support and infrastructure maintenance, and IT investments in the legacy grants systems for transition to the Grants Management Modernization Program,” the document read.

Merkley, a vocal critic of the president, argued that the administration is taking money from “response and recovery” and “working hard to find funds for additional detention camps,” in an appearance on MSNBC’s  “Rachel Maddow Show” on Tuesday.

According to CNN:

The document shows the amount transferred from FEMA to ICE is a sliver of the agency’s budget.
The transfer from FEMA to ICE is less than 1% of FEMA’s overall budget. FEMA’s budget originally was $1.03 billion, and the amount transferred was about $9.755 million.
The document does confirm that the money would be spent on ICE’s detention facilities.

 

As Merkely was given the platform to push his narrative, liberals continued the mob attack against the administration over the detention and forced separation of illegal immigrant families, a sore spot for Democrats.

“This is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s outrageously misplaced homeland security priorities,” Democratic Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security, said according to KHOU. “We have a president who cares more about locking up families seeking asylum and putting kids in cages than ensuring FEMA has every resource necessary to prepare for and respond to disasters.”

But a senior FEMA official pushed back against the alarm that FEMA would not be able to respond adequately to Hurricane Florence or others disasters.

“We have plenty of resources to respond. We have plenty of resources to recover,” Jeff Byard, FEMA’s associate administrator for response and recovery, said Wednesday, according to KHOU. “That has not impacted our situation whatsoever.”

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