Millions For Local Military Projects Diverted For Border Wall

Sep 4, 2019

President Donald Trump defunded two of Hawaii’s military projects to pay for his administration's southern border wall, including one project deemed high priority by the U.S. Marine Corps. 

The projects affected are a $26.5 million security improvement on a gate at Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base and a $5 million Air Force training facility at Joint-Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Hawaii Congressman Ed Case, who is on the House Appropriations Committee, criticized the diversion of funds away from the local military projects.

“They should be built right now under the current cycle of appropriations rather than being diverted by the president to a border wall because he didn’t get his way with Congress,” he said.

The Pentagon will cut funding from $3.6 billion in military projects nationwide, including schools, target ranges and maintenance facilities to pay for the construction of 175 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, President Trump's long-promised southern barrier.

Projects in 23 states, 19 countries and three U.S. territories would be stalled or killed by the plan, although just $1.1 billion in cuts would strike the continental U.S., according to a list released Wednesday by the Pentagon. Almost $700 million would come from projects in U.S. territories, with another $1.8 billion coming from projects on overseas bases.

Trump's move would take the biggest step yet in delivering on his promise to build a wall to block immigrants from entering the country illegally. But it may come at the expense of projects that the Pentagon acknowledged may be difficult to fund anew.

Capitol Hill Democrats, outraged over Trump's use of an emergency order for the wall, promised they won't approve money to revive them.

“I will strongly oppose any request by this administration to provide additional money for the projects it intends to defund. The American people cannot be asked to foot the bill a second time for projects that this administration has decided to funnel money away from,” said Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz in a press release.

Schatz’s statement also explained the importance of the now postponed gate security update at Kaneohe Marine Corps Base. The security improvements would have helped the gate meet “anti-terrorism and force protection requirements,” according to the release.

The project was also listed as a high priority on the Marine Corps’ 2018 unfunded requirements list.

Case said the postponement of both Hawaii projects could cause an increase in cost for these projects.

However, he said he hopes that the issue of diverted funds will be resolved through the courts or a compromise with the president over border wall funding.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.