By\u00a0Abby Livingston\r\nWASHINGTON \u2014 Gov.\u00a0Greg Abbott\u2019s use of COVID-19 relief dollars to support his border security mission has come under scrutiny in Washington this week as questions grow about whether it\u2019s the proper use of the federal funds.\r\nThe U.S. Treasury Department\u2019s inspector general opened an inquiry into the spending on Tuesday,\u00a0the Washington Post reported. The action came a day after a group of Texas Democrats in the U.S. House called on U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to investigate.\r\nThose steps followed a Post analysis of money intended to combat the effects of the pandemic, showing that Texas \u201cleaders rerouted public health and safety funds to their border operations while relying on federal pandemic funds to replace some of the money.\u201d\r\nThose border operations included Operation Lone Star,\u00a0a state border security program that Abbott launched in March 2021 to deal with increased border crossings. The initiative involves the deployment of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Military Department to the border.\r\nAbbott has used state resources to patrol the border, build border barriers and arrest migrants for trespassing on private land and then turn them over to immigration authorities.\r\nThe state has spent around $4 billion on the operations; the Post has reported that around $1 billion in coronavirus aid was used.\r\nThe money came from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, better known as the CARES Act, which had a key provision to support the medical response to the pandemic.\r\n\u201cIn exercise of that responsibility \u2026 we are currently conducting a review of Texas\u2019s uses of [Coronavirus Relief Fund] monies,\u201d Richard K. Delmar, the U.S. Treasury Department\u2019s deputy inspector general, said to the Washington Post.\r\nHe also indicated he had not ruled out a \u201crecoupment of the money.\u201d\r\nAbbott\u2019s spokesperson asserted that the spending was proper.\r\n\u201cHere in Texas, we have worked with the legislature to allocate federal funds in a manner that adheres to federal guidance,\u201d Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said in a statement to The Texas Tribune. \u201cBetween legislative sessions, in the event of a disaster, there are mechanisms to re-allocate state dollars if necessary to respond to the disaster\u2014and we have had to use $4 billion of state dollars for Operation Lone Star to do the federal government\u2019s job.\u201d\r\n\u201cRather than attacking Texas for responding to their border disaster that they have created and escalated in the last year, President Biden and Democrats in Congress need to stop playing politics and do their jobs to secure our border,\u201d she added.\r\nTexas Democratic U.S. Reps.\u00a0Joaquin Castro\u00a0of San Antonio and\u00a0Veronica Escobar\u00a0of El Paso\u00a0spearheaded the letter\u00a0to Yellen asking for her department to investigate the matter.\r\n\u201cIt is negligent and irresponsible for Governor [Abbott] to direct additional funding to Operation Lone Star, especially if the funding in question was intended to help Texans rebuild from the pandemic,\u201d the Texas Democrats wrote.\r\nU.S. Reps.\u00a0Colin Allred\u00a0of Dallas,\u00a0Lloyd Doggett\u00a0of Austin,\u00a0Marc Veasey\u00a0of Fort Worth and\u00a0Sylvia R. Garcia,\u00a0Al Green,\u00a0Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, and Sheila Jackson Lee\u00a0of Houston joined in signing the letter.\r\n\u201cAs you continue your oversight of the Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds, we urge you to ensure all states are using these crucial funds for the reasons they were meant to be used,\u201d they continued. \u201cGovernor Abbott must not be allowed to use federal coronavirus relief funds to further his political theater at the expense of Texas families.\u201d\r\nThis story was originally published by the Texas Tribune.