The Pentagon is considering shifting millions of dollars approved by Congress to build an intelligence center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base to help finance a wall championed by President Donald Trump across the Mexican border.
The list of potential cuts, released Monday by Senate Democrats, could impact $112 million of military construction projects in Ohio, including the first installment of a long–coveted intelligence center at Wright–Patterson Air Force Base. The list also includes $6.8 million for a new fire/crash rescue station at the base.
They also could impact smaller construction projects at Camp Ravenna, Mansfield, Toledo and Youngstown.
They are part of the money that Trump sought as part of a national emergency declaration that allows him to redirect federal dollars already approved by Congress.
The overall pool of projects — which comes from fiscal years 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 — totals $12.9 billion, which is far more than the $3.6 billion of military construction dollars Trump has said he would need to help build the wall. The list is compiled of projects that have not been contracted out, and not all would be affected. It was released by Senate Democrats late Monday.
“We know President Trump wants to take money from our national security accounts to pay for his wall, 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,” said Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Monday marked the first time the Pentagon has provided Congress with a list of military construction projects which could be delayed to build the border barrier. Even though the Ohio projects are included on the list, it does not guarantee they will be delayed.
Among the Ohio projects on the list are:
- $61 million, the first of three installments for a new building to host the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The intelligence center is currently housed at a World War II-era building on the base.
- $6.8 million for a new fire/crash rescue station at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
- $8.8 million to relocate the main gate at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station
- $7.4 million for a new machine gun range at Camp Ravenna
- $13 million for a replacement fire station at Mansfield Lahm Airport
- $15 million for alert hangar at Toledo Express Airport.
Morgan Rako, a spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Turner, R–Dayton, said “not all” of the projects will be affected. “This list does not indicate which projects specifically will have delayed funding, if any.”
Turner fought the use of military construction dollars for the wall but nonetheless did not vote to overturn the national emergency, calling the vote a “political ploy” meant to help House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Sen. Rob Portman, R–Ohio, was the only Ohio Republican in the delegation to vote to overturn the emergency, saying while he supported the border wall, he believed using a national emergency to pay for it violated the constitutional separation of powers.
Rako said Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget includes $121 million for the intelligence center — the final two installments of the $182 million project.
“Congressman Turner is committed to continuing to work with the Administration to make this expansion at Wright–Patt a reality,” Rako said.
But Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley criticized Turner for not voting to scrap President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. She said “one thing we have done in a bipartisan fashion is protect Wright-Patterson Air Force Base no matter what, and I found his vote disappointing.”
Rako shot back at Whaley’s comments saying “Mayor Whaley’s comments are laughable since she has never lifted a finger for Wright-Patt and she has continuously supported open border national policies, which Congressman Turner has opposed.”
Whaley responded, “What’s laughable is that Congressman Turner believes that he is the only one that protects the base, when supporting Wright-Patt is a bi-partisan, community-wide effort.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, criticized the president’s plan to “go around Congress” to get funding for a border wall.
“Last year, key investments were allocated for the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base, Toledo 180th Fighter Wing, Youngstown Air Reserve Station and Camp Ravenna – and after last week’s bipartisan rebuke by Congress, I hope the President would realize that any attempt to rob Ohio of these funds would be met with vehement opposition,” Brown said.
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