The Pentagon on Monday released a list of $6.8 billion worth of military-construction projects that could be scuttled to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall, posing political issues for Republican senators who could see bases in their home states lose hundreds of millions of dollars.
More than $2.6 billion of that funding would come from 12 states where Republican senators who supported Trump’s declaration are facing re-election next year.
The list — which the Pentagon failed to deliver to Congress last week — detailed dozens of projects around the world that could lose funding after Trump declared a national emergency on the border, allowing him to divert parts of the Defense Department budget toward building hundreds of miles of barrier between the U.S. and Mexico.
That includes Sen. Martha McSally of Arizona, who defended her support last week by citing the Pentagon’s assurances that her home state’s projects wouldn’t be touched. Now, bases in the Grand Canyon State are facing $148 million in construction cuts.
Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post criticizing Trump’s declaration before ultimately voting Thursday against a resolution to revoke it, will surely face more criticism at home over the $533 million his state stands to lose at installations like Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune.
On Tuesday, the Raleigh-based WTVD-TV posted a headline declaring, “Funding President Trump’s border wall could take $500M from projects at 6 North Carolina military facilities.”
In addition to McSally and Tillis, 10 other Republican senators who voted against the resolution are also up for re-election next year: Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, John Cornyn of Texas, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, David Perdue of Georgia and Dan Sullivan of Alaska.
The Defense Department said only non-residential projects awarded after the end of the current fiscal year were in jeopardy. The projects that meet those criteria would cost about $4.3 billion.
But Chip Unruh, the spokesman for Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said Congress has gotten mixed signals about what could be cut and that the administration could easily change course.
“The Pentagon claims they won’t touch military housing, but if the White House changes its mind — which has happened before — then military housing is on the chopping block,” Unruh said. “By sending us this list, the Pentagon is telegraphing that these are the projects at risk.”
The cuts could also play into escalating tensions with North Korea, as projects at installations most vulnerable to the dictatorship could also be slashed: $661 million in Japan, $452 million in Hawaii, $349 million in Guam and $70 million in South Korea.