DHS response to Sen. Merkley, says FEMA money transfer won't harm hurricane relief

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon. (Image from video: MSNBC/"Rachel Maddow Show")

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Homeland Security Department is pushing back against a Democratic U.S. senator's claim that the Trump administration transferred nearly $10 million from the government's disaster relief agency to immigration enforcement.

Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said the administration was taking money from FEMA's "response and recovery" to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency at a time when Hurricane Florence is bearing down on the Southeast U.S. coast.

But DHS officials said the money was transferred from the department's unspent operational accounts for training, office supplies and headquarters costs. That funding cannot be spent on disaster response, they said. FEMA's annual budget is about $15 billion.

Merkley's office provided a Homeland Security transfer and reprogramming notification document that showed the money was transferred. It shows the money came from FEMA's operational account.

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