Billions from military projects could fund Trump's border wall
President Trump visiting Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in North Carolina last year. The base faces more than $100 million in aircraft maintenance cuts. Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images
After weeks of delay, the Defense Department on Monday provided Congress with a list of military construction projects that could see their funding diverted — about $12.9 billion in total — to pay for a border wall under Trump's declared national emergency.
Why it matters: The 400 construction projects affected are spread across 40 states and nearly 30 countries with a U.S. presence around the world, and they're often vitally important for local economies. That — along with the power of local news sources in their communities — could force lawmakers to rethink their position on how to move forward with overriding Trump's national security veto.
- Arizona: About $150 million could be diverted, including a $30 million equipment building at Fort Huachuca and a $15 million facility at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, per the Tucson Sentinel. Republican Sen. Martha McSally, who sided against a measure blocking Trump's emergency declaration, said she is "actively working to keep [the projects] off any chopping block and will fight tooth and nail to backfill if needed."
- California: The list includes 31 projects in the state with total congressional appropriations of more than $1.1 billion, including "fire emergency and electrical upgrades at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton," per the Los Angeles Times.
- Illinois: The move could delay a long-requested $9 million firehouse for firefighters of the Illinois Air National Guard, who also provide fire coverage to the civilian side of the Peoria International Airport, according to the Journal Star.
- Maine: $200 million in projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard are on the chopping block, which the head of the largest union working there called "disturbing," per WMTW.
- New Jersey: The list includes almost $150 million in funding for projects across the state. But Republican Rep. Chris Smith, whose district includes Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, argued that the projects were not at risk, calling Trump's tactic "delay and not denial," per NJ.com.
- North Carolina: The Pentagon's decision puts at risk more than $500 million in projects at six sites across the state, including over $125 million in aircraft maintenance, per ABC11. One of the state's senators, Republican Thom Tillis, initially said he would vote to block Trump's emergency declaration before changing his mind and siding with the president.
- Ohio: A $15 million fighter plane hangar in Toledo could see its funding diverted along with another $100 million across the state. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) blasted the decision, saying, "We have a northern border as well as a southern border," the Toledo Blade reports.
- Worldwide: $600 million in projects designed to counter Russian aggression among NATO allies in the Baltics could see their funding diverted, according to Stars and Stripes. Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the former head of U.S. Army Europe, told Stars and Stripes that the projects "represent tangible manifestations of America’s commitment to Europe and to [NATO], which has unfortunately been called into question over the last couple of years."
The other side: The administration said that the list only includes military construction projects approved and appropriated by Congress, but have not yet been contracted out by the Pentagon.
- Projects that involve military housing or that carry award dates before Sept. 30, 2019, won't be touched, the statement said.
- "It is important to be clear that this is not a list of projects that will definitively be impacted," said Leacy Burke, spokeswoman for Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, per the Los Angeles Times.