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Trump Is Pulling Money From Hurricane Recovery and Childcare Centers to Build His Wall

The Pentagon plans to divert $3.6 billion from military projects in the latest effort to circumvent Congress

by Tim Marcin
Sep 5 2019, 1:25pm

President Donald Trump still wants his wall, but it turns out that despite his campaign promises, Mexico will not be paying for it. So his administration found a way to get funding: They’re pulling money from military projects and the fund that’s intended to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.

The Pentagon reportedly plans to divert some $3.6 billion from 127 military projects across the globe to help fulfill the president’s signature campaign promise. The full list of affected projects made its way to Congress this week.

The military projects include:

  • Elementary schools that educate the children of service members stationed in Japan and Germany
  • A grant for a military school in Fort Campbell, Kentucky
  • A child development center at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland that provides on-base childcare
  • Some $400 million in planned projects for Puerto Rico, the majority of which were related to Hurricane Maria. The projects include a school for military kids and improvements to a training facility for the Puerto Rico National Guard.
  • Work on defense access roads in Texas
  • A maintenance shop that works on Navy ships
  • Equipment storage buildings, rifle ranges, and aircraft simulators
  • A cyberoperations center
  • Plans to replace warehouses that store hazardous materials in naval shipyards in Virginia
  • An engineering center and a parking structure at West Point
  • A treatment facility for working dogs at Guantanamo Bay

NPR has the full list of overseas projects — which account for about half of the total affected projects — and domestic projects that will have funds diverted for Trump’s wall. Puerto Rico, Guam, New York and New Mexico will be hit hardest by the diverted funds.

The affected projects could be revived, but Congress would have to agree to replace the funds. The diverted funds, meanwhile, will go toward 11 projects in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

READ: Trump might be fine with doing crimes to build his border wall

Virginia Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner slammed Trump and said their state would lose more than $77 million in planned construction projects.

“The commander in chief is raiding his own military to advance his political agenda,” Kaine said this week. “This is a colossal dereliction of the duty he has to our nation and our troops.”

Even Utah's Republican senators, Mitt Romney and Mike Lee, expressed dismay over losing $54 million in funding for projects.

“Funding the border wall is an important priority, and the Executive Branch should use the appropriate channels in Congress, rather than divert already appropriated funding away from military construction projects and therefore undermining military readiness,” Romney said in a statement.

Trump is circumventing Congress to get money for his long-promised wall: He declared the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border was an emergency in order to secure the funds. And it’s not the first time Trump has resorted to extreme measures to try to secure funding. In December and January, the president shut down the government in an effort to get billions of dollars for the wall.

With Hurricane Dorian pounding the Southeast, it’s also worth noting that Trump has pulled $155 million from FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund and allocated it to ICE, and pulled $116 million from the Coast Guard for the southern border.

Cover: President Donald Trump speaks in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, in Washington, as he announces state opioid response grants. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)