DoD Releases $6.7 Billion List of Projects That Could Be Bumped for Border Wall

Construction Electrician Constructionman Alexander Ossorio, a Seabee from Los Angeles, drills a hole for electrical wiring at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. (U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Class William S. Parker)
Construction Electrician Constructionman Alexander Ossorio, a Seabee from Los Angeles, drills a hole for electrical wiring at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. (U.S. Navy/Chief Mass Communication Specialist Class William S. Parker)

The Pentagon released a list Monday of hundreds of military construction projects worldwide totaling nearly $6.8 billion, many of which could be delayed or have funds diverted to fund the southern border wall.

The release of the list by acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to the Senate Armed Services Committee came a day after acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney went on Sunday network talk shows to state that there was no existing list of projects facing cancellation and "it could be a while" before one was delivered to Congress.

The list was first made public by Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, ranking member on Senate Armed Services, on Monday afternoon and later released by the Pentagon.

Projects include, among others, a $38 million training support facility at Fort Rucker, Alabama; a $32 million vehicle maintenance shop at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; to a $53 million unmanned aerial vehicle hangar at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea; and $65 million for a "parking structure" at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

According to an accompanying statement, the list is a complete accounting of all projects still unawarded as of December 31, 2018. Not everything on the list is eligible for reallocation; only projects with award dates after Sept. 30, 2019, qualify, and no military housing, barracks or dormitory projects can be touched, officials said.

“The appearance of any project within the pool does not mean that the project will, in fact, be used to source section 2808 projects,” the Pentagon said in the statement.

The full list is here.

"We know President Trump wants to take money from our national security accounts to pay for his wall," said Reed, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, in a statement. "And now we have a list of some of the projects and needed base repairs that could be derailed or put on the chopping block as a result."

The fact sheet accompanying the list held out the possibility that none of the targeted military construction projects "would be delayed or cancelled" if Congress passed the requested $750 billion defense budget by the Oct. 1 deadline for the start of fiscal year 2020.

Under the national emergency declared at the southern border by President Donald Trump on Feb. 15, the administration has been seeking an initial $3.6 billion from military construction projects to fund additional construction of the wall.

Another possible $3.6 billion from military construction for the wall was included in a $9.2 billion "emergency fund" that was part of the administration's overall $750 billion request for next fiscal year.

In his statement, Reed charged that Trump was "planning to take funds from real, effective operational priorities and needed projects and divert them to his vanity wall."

He said the funding would "come at the expense of our military bases and the men and women of our Armed Forces who rely on them."

The existence of the list and its release has been a source of controversy since Trump declared a national emergency Feb. 15 after Congress rejected his request for $5.7 billion for the wall, resulting in a 35-day partial government shutdown.

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the budget March 14, Shanahan agreed to the requests of several senators for the list of military construction projects. He said the list would be provided by the end of the day, but phoned Reed later to say the list would not be forthcoming.

A spokesman for Shanahan told Military.com March 15 that the list was still being worked on and would be provided to the "appropriate government officials."

Under the emergency, Trump was seeking a total of about $8.2 billion for the wall, including $3.6 billion from military construction.

Both the Senate and the House have now passed a "motion of disapproval" against the national emergency and Trump last Friday signed a veto of the motion, the first veto of his presidency.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has scheduled a March 26 vote to override the veto, although it appears that both the House and the Senate lacked the two-thirds majority necessary to override.

On CBS' "Face The Nation" program Sunday, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, a Senate Armed Services Committee member, charged that the White House was withholding the list to avoid possible Republican defections in the House override vote next week.

In his statement Monday, Reed made a similar suggestion.

"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.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com

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