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Supreme Court sides with Trump on Pentagon funding border wall

In a major defeat for Democrats blocking construction of a border wall, the Supreme Court on Friday sided with the Trump administration’s attempts to use Pentagon funding.

The Supreme Court said it is lifting a freeze on the money put in place by a lower court. The Supreme Court’s action means the Trump administration can tap the funds and begin work on four contracts it has awarded. Four liberal justices wouldn’t have allowed construction to start.

The decision means billions of dollars available for Trump to make progress on a major 2016 campaign promise heading into his race for a second term. Trump ended a 35-day government shutdown in February after Congress gave him approximately $1.4 billion in border wall funding, far less than the $5.7 billion he was seeking. Trump then declared a national emergency to take cash from other government accounts to use to construct sections of wall.

A trial court initially froze the funds in May at the behest of Democrats and open border proponents and an appeals court kept that freeze in place earlier this month. The freeze had prevented the government from tapping approximately $2.5 billion in Defense Department money to replace existing sections of barrier in Arizona, California and New Mexico with more robust fencing.

With the Supreme Court victory, drug money seized by the Pentagon can now be used to build high-priority sections of wall in Arizona, California and New Mexico.

–Dwight Widaman and wire services