Pentagon lists possible project cuts to pay for wall
Washington – The Pentagon sent a 20-page list of military construction projects to Congress on Monday as lawmakers tried figuring out which might be cut to pay for President Donald Trump’s wall along the Mexican border. Democrats expressed hope that the task would make lawmakers more likely to override Trump’s veto of a measure aimed at preventing the cuts.
The document listed hundreds of projects envisioned around the U.S. and the world that are worth around $12.9 billion. In an accompanying letter, Defense Department officials said that because they won’t target projects for which money was already awarded or for items like housing, many items listed won’t be cut. They did not specify which would be exempted.
Trump declared a national emergency at the Mexican border last month, invoking a law that would let him siphon other budget funds to build barriers and fulfill his prime 2016 campaign promise.
Trump proposed using his declaration to steer $3.6 billion in military construction projects to wall constructions. He has vetoed legislation aimed at annulling his border emergency, and the House plans to vote on overriding the veto next week. Congress is expected to fall short of the two-thirds majorities needed in each chamber to override the veto.
Even so, Democrats latched onto the list to drum up support for the veto override by pointing to home-state projects facing potential cuts.
“What President Trump is doing is a slap in the face to our military that makes our border and the country less secure,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement.
“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,” Reed said.
A spokesperson for Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Armed Services panel, said the document “is not a list of projects that will definitively be impacted.” She said Inhofe will continue working with defense officials “to determine projects that would allow for the use of the armed forces without negatively affecting any military construction projects.”
Before Congress voted to block Trump’s emergency declaration, Democrats had complained that it was taking the Pentagon too long to provide its list of targeted projects.
Associated Press writer Andrew Taylor contributed to this report.