President Donald Trump at a briefing on Hurricane Florence in the Oval Office Tuesday. Photo: Zach Gibson /AFP/Getty Images

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow reported Tuesday that the Trump administration transferred $9.8 million from FEMA's budget to ICE, citing budget documents provided by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

The big picture: The slash in funding comes as the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence, which threatens to wreak havoc within days, with two other tropical systems on the horizon. The Department of Homeland Security quickly followed up in a tweet refuting the claims, saying "The money in question — transferred to ICE from FEMA’s routine operating expenses — could not have been used for hurricane response due to appropriation limitations."

The details: Maddow said the funds may be used for additional detention camps and added that DHS did not immediately dispute the authenticity of the document. "Instead [a spokesperson] told us that the money didn't come from any of our disaster response and recovery efforts, but again, it appears that it did come from FEMA," she explained.

  • Sen. Merkley, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee said the administration has the ability to transfer funds, but it would need to inform Congress. And if the amount is over $5 million, it would have to notify the committee chair.

DHS spokesperson Tyler Houlton went on to explain, "Under no circumstances was any disaster relief funding transferred from @fema to immigration enforcement efforts. This is a sorry attempt to push a false agenda at a time when the administration is focused on assisting millions on the East Coast facing a catastrophic disaster."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect DHS' response.

Go deeper

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
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