When President Donald Trump declared a national emergency at the southern border last month, he announced plans to redirect money approved for military projects to fund a wall at the border. On Monday, the Department of Defense issued a list of $12.9 billion worth of projects that could be cut to fund the wall.
That list of possible cuts includes $142 million in projects in New Jersey — including commercial gate security improvements at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and $81 million for a hangar and other facilities for KC-46A tanker planes at based at McGuire.
New Jersey’s Democratic congressional delegation — including Sens. Cory Booker and Bob Menendez and 11 of 12 representatives — wrote to acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to oppose cutting Garden State projects to fund the border wall.
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. (@BillPascrell) March 13, 2019
“We remind you that these projects meet critical mission requirements,” they wrote. “Any attempts to reduce, reprogram or divert funding from these installations will severely undermine our military readiness.”
The inclusion of a $39 million maintenance hangar at Dover Air Force Base in Dover on the list drew similar disapproval from Delaware’s congressional delegation.
“President Trump’s ill-considered, ultimately unconstitutional move to do an end around the congressional appropriation process and try to grab $8 billion from previously appropriated funds for the purpose of meeting his campaign commitment, strikes me as troubling in so many ways,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware.
“He campaigned on Mexico paying for it. Mexico is not paying for it, the American taxpayer is, and President Trump is seeking to take it out of appropriated funds for defense purposes … that is badly needed by our Department of Defense.”
Work on the maintenance hangar at Dover is already underway, according to U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware. He says the new structure will increase the availability of the massive C-5 cargo planes that provide supplies to U.S. military locations around the world from Dover.
“We don’t have a hangar big enough to put the entire aircraft in the hangar,” Carper said, adding that after working with Congress for years to appropriate the money, it makes no sense to stop the work now.
More than $100 million in projects are on the chopping block in Pennsylvania. That includes $71 million earmarked for a facility to make submarine propulsor systems at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Other Keystone State projects at risk include an $8 million training facility and dining hall at Fort Indiantown Gap and a $17 million reserve training center in Pittsburgh.
Projects slated for Puerto Rico at a cost of $538 million are also in jeopardy.
The Department of Defense memo listing the projects said the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Northern Command “will conduct a mission analysis on which border barrier projects would support the use of the armed forces. This analysis will help determine the border barrier projects the Department of Defense might undertake and the level of funding required.”
Projects at American military facilities outside of the U.S. could also face cuts. That includes nearly $110 million in work in Poland and $712 million in Germany.