The Pentagon can’t explain where $2.5 billion in border wall funding is coming from

Rebekah Entralgo

Rebekah Entralgo Reporter, ThinkProgress

Military medical facilities and dining halls. A hangar for drones in South Korea. A wastewater treatment plant at West Point. All could lose money as the Trump administration shifts resources to pay for a border wall.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan on Monday delivered to Congress a list of military projects that could be impacted by Trump’s national emergency declaration. Shanahan’s list to Congress is general and includes $12.5 billion worth of program funding that is up for grabs. Funding could also be siphoned away from facilities that affect everyday life on domestic and international U.S. military bases, including dining halls, medical facilities, and roads.

Trump’s national emergency declaration allows him to divert $3.6 billion worth of funding from the programs Shanahan identified, in order to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. It isn’t known when the White House will make the $3.6 billion cut and from which Pentagon programs.

But Shanahan’s list doesn’t account for an additional $2.5 billion in funding that Trump requested for his wall.

In his emergency declaration last month, Trump announced that in addition to diverting money from the military reconstruction budget, he would also take $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s counter-drug funding. But as The Washington Post reported, the counter-drug account currently has less than $100 million in it. This leaves the Pentagon the task of finding more projects to cut funding from and moving that money into the budget for the wall. There still isn’t clarity on where that money will be coming from.

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who sits on the Senate Armed Services committee, said in a statement that Trump “is putting his border wall ahead of the safety of our troops.”

“The projects that could lose funding include military training centers in Virginia, a plant to prevent water contamination at Camp Lejeune, and a cybersecurity facility in Georgia,” he said. “I hope my colleagues in Congress will take a serious look at the projects that support our military in their own states and then vote to override the president’s veto.”

Additionally, siphoning counter-drug funding from the Pentagon would do very little to actually stop drugs from crossing the U.S.- Mexico border. As ThinkProgress has previously reported, most drugs come through vehicles by legal ports of entry.

In recent weeks, some of CBP’s largest drug seizures have occurred at ports not located on the southern border. Nineteen million dollars’ worth of cocaine was discovered at a seaport in Savannah, Georgia last month, while 100 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the Port of Philadelphia the month prior.

While Russell Vought, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, has stated that the money pooled from military projects will contribute to the “full completion” of the wall, the president’s own administration has estimated that its total cost will be far higher. The White House requested $8.6 billion in funding from Congress for the 2020 fiscal year to help pay for the border wall, but the Department of Homeland Security has estimated that the wall could wind up costing $22 billion. Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have warned of a $70 billion sticker price.

Congress voted to reject Trump’s national emergency declaration, but the president used his first veto on the legislation last week.

Despite both the record-long shutdown over border wall funding and the national emergency declaration, a single new linear mile of border wall has yet to be constructed. The existing 694 miles were all constructed by Trump’s predecessors.

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Reposted from ThinkProgress

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Failing Bridges Hold Public Hostage

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities.

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) gave the public just a few hours’ notice before closing a major bridge in March, citing significant safety concerns.

The West Seattle Bridge functioned as an essential component of  the city’s local and regional transportation network, carrying 125,000 travelers a day while serving Seattle’s critical maritime and freight industries. Closing it was a huge blow to the city and its citizens. 

Yet neither Seattle’s struggle with bridge maintenance nor the inconvenience now facing the city’s motorists is unusual. Decades of neglect left bridges across the country crumbling or near collapse, requiring a massive investment to keep traffic flowing safely.

When they opened it in 1984, officials predicted the West Seattle Bridge would last 75 years.

But in 2013, cracks started appearing in the center span’s box girders, the main horizontal support beams below the roadway. These cracks spread 2 feet in a little more than two weeks, prompting the bridge’s closure.

And it’s still at risk of falling.  

The city set up an emergency alert system so those in the “fall zone” could be quickly evacuated if the bridge deteriorates to the point of collapse.

More than one-third of U.S. bridges similarly need repair work or replacement, a reminder of America’s urgent need to invest in long-ignored infrastructure.

Fixing or replacing America’s bridges wouldn’t just keep Americans moving. It would also provide millions of family-supporting jobs for steel and cement workers, while also boosting the building trades and other industries.

With bridges across the country close to failure and millions unemployed, America needs a major infrastructure campaign now more than ever.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work