The previous bidding in the government debate over new border wall construction seemed to come down to an offer of $5.7B from the President and one dollar from Nancy Pelosi. With those talks effectively turning into a stalemate, President Trump has been looking into alternate funding options, and it now appears that he’s latched onto something else. And that “something else” is big. We’re talking about nearly $13 billion and it would all be coming from the military. But not everyone is happy about it. (Reuters)
The U.S. Department of Defense is proposing to pay for President Donald Trump’s much-debated border wall by shifting funds away from projects that include $1.2 billion for schools, childcare centers and other facilities for military children, according to a list it has provided to lawmakers.
The Pentagon gave Congress a list on Monday that included $12.8 billion of construction projects for which it said funds could be redirected. Around 10 percent of the list relates to educational establishments and includes school buildings for the children of service members in places like Germany, Japan, Kentucky and Puerto Rico.
The move comes as a surprise given the Trump administration’s oft-touted support for the sacrifices made by military families and suggests the White House’s desire to build a wall on the border with Mexico outstrips nearly all other issues.
So how much of an impact would this shifting of funds have? That depends on which aspect of the military you’re talking about. In terms of operational readiness or the ability of deployed units to get their jobs done, it sounds like there would be little if any effect felt. This is all construction money, so it would probably delay the building of new facilities, such as schools and medical units, or upgrades and repairs.
Jeff Dunetz dug through some of the numbers and compiled a list of criteria the military used when developing this proposal.
The Pentagon used the following criteria to come up with their list of funding possibilities:
– No military construction projects that already have been awarded and no military construction projects with FY 2019 award dates will be impacted.
– No military housing, barracks, or dormitory projects will be impacted.
– The pool of potential military construction projects from which funding could be reallocated to support the construction of border barrier are solely projects with award dates after September 30, 2019.
While most of the money identified comes from the fifty states, some of the projects identified are outside the fifty, including Guam, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, Norway, Hungary, Jordan, Japan, Qatar, the UK, and the UAE.
As with most questions involving funding, the “catastrophe” here comes more from the politics than the underlying reality. Nobody ever wants to see their funding cut or their projects delayed, and if any of the impacted units have been building their plans around these construction projects, they will undoubtedly be less than thrilled. And since we’re talking about almost $13 billion, you can’t make that much funding suddenly disappear without it having a visible impact.
But where do we want to place our priorities here? I’m sure every one of those other projects had already been justified since they were approved. But the President’s priority right now is making progress on the border wall, barrier, fence or whatever else we’re calling it these days. And he’s in charge of the military. Congress could defuse the military funding question this week if they really wanted to. Just cough up the $5.7B that’s been requested and move on to the next agenda item.