Pentagon identifies nearly $13B of military projects that could be shelved to fund border wall construction

  • ​Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan earlier this week releasedthe Department of Defense’s $12.8 billion list of unawarded military construction projects, some of which might be shelved in order to meet President Donald Trump’s $3.6 billion national emergency request for U.S.-Mexico border wall funding. The list came after pressure from Democratic senator from Rhode Island, Jack Reed and others in Congress pressured the Pentagon to identify the projects susceptible to having their funds redirected. 
  • The DOD’s list includes projects in the U.S. and around the globe that have been authorized since Fiscal Year 2015 but were still unawarded as of Dec. 31, 2018. However, only those projects with award dates after Sep. 30, 2020, are at risk of being canceled, and housing, barracks and dormitory projects are safe from being defunded.
  • The DOD said that if its Fiscal Year 2020 budget is enacted in the timeframe requested by the department, none of the projects on the list will be delayed or canceled.

“A bipartisan majority of Congress went on record in voting to rebuke this ill-conceived idea,” Reed said. “Now that members of Congress can see the potential impact this proposal could have on projects in their home states, I hope they will take that into consideration before the vote to override the president’s veto.”

By declaring a national emergency at the U.S. southern border, the president hopes to secure a significant amount of money to build new sections of border wall, a request denied by Congress in the appropriations bill Trump signed in February. Through an emergency declaration, the White House said it could tap about $6.5 billion beyond the $1.4 building included in the bill. In addition to the $3.6 billion of military construction money, the administration has its eye on $601 million from the Treasury Forfeiture Fund and $2.5 billion from the DOD’s counter-narcotics budget.

However, the path to actually being able to use that money is proving to be difficult. On March 14, the Senate supported a House resolution and voted to overturn the president’s declaration. The following day, Trump vetoed that piece of legislation

In addition, in the days after the president announced that he was declaring an emergency at the border, 16 states filed a lawsuit claiming that the president’s use of his power to do so was unconstitutional. This could be the beginning of a lengthy legal battle and further delay the administration’s ability to tap into extra border wall cash.

The White House took another swing at securing major border wall construction funding through the president’s $4.7 trillion 2020 budget proposal, submitted to Congress earlier this month. In the request, the administration asked for $8.6 billion for the wall. 

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