Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan released a list of authorized military construction projects that are subject to being “canceled” or “reduced” by $3.6 billion and reallocated to pay for President Trump’s border wall. The compiled list was requested and published by Senator Jack Reed (D – RI) the Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee. Construction at the Minot Air Force Base and Fargo National Guard Readiness Center are on the list as potential sources of funds to be used for the border wall.
According to the list, $32 million has been identified from the Military Construction, Army National Guard funding for Fargo. The money would go toward the National Guard Readiness Center unless taken for the border wall. This would be the second time in recent years we can identify federal pull back from the North Dakota National Guard. Last year, a decline in federal funding related to scholarships led to the North Dakota Emergency Commission approving more state money to maintain the program for recruits. We increasingly ask more of our Guard members, whether it is natural disaster assistance like a potential Fargo flood, overseas deployments, or border security visits, they show up to work.
It also appears two Military Construction projects for the Air Force have been identified at the Minot Air Force Base. $27 million for an indoor firing range and $66 million for a Consolidated Helo/TRF Ops/AMU and Alert Fac. Potentially $93 million from the Minot Air Force base for the border wall.
I encourage you to look through the full list provided to Senator Reed. There are other outrageous possibilities of where the administration could take the money from. However, the Department of Defense wants it known, “Decisions have not yet been made concerning which border barrier projects will be funded through section 2808 authority. If the Department’s FY 2020 budget is enacted on time as requested, no military construction project used to source section 2808 projects would be delayed or cancelled.” Uncertainty pushed on them by the President. Senator Cramer calls the uncertainty “an accounting trick.” Potentially large chunks taken from the military to make up the $3.6 billion that Trump promised Mexico would pay for.
$125 million potentially taken from North Dakota projects because of President Trump’s National Emergency Declaration. That same declaration was rejected by a majority of Congress. Republicans and Democrats from the upper Midwest voted against the declaration. Yet, North Dakota’s full delegation supported the President’s unilateral action. Senator Kevin Cramer even cheered Trump’s veto and directed the blame back at Congress for not getting more money. Who was a part of the bipartisan negotiation on funding? Senator John Hoeven. I’m curious if Hoeven has anything he’d like to say to his colleague Cramer?
First, Senator Cramer called Trump’s emergency declaration “unnecessary” before announcing he, in fact, happens to “agree with the policy.” Cramer serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, the same as Senator Reed who requested this information. He also just wrapped up a tour of our state’s military bases including the Minot Air Force Base. Did Cramer tell service members he happens to “agree with the policy” of potentially stripping money from North Dakota bases for a border wall?
This move should outrage Congress. It used to. Congress appropriated the money, these projects were identified and reportedly authorized, and now are threatened to be stripped away by the President to fulfill half of his campaign promise. Congress should reject this overreach instead of cheering it on from the sidelines. If Hoeven, Cramer, and Armstrong simply and so easily surrender their responsibilities to a President can we believe they’ll “fight like crazy” for North Dakota projects? I’ll ask again, what is the point?