These Military Projects Are Losing Funding To Trump's Border Wall The Pentagon notified lawmakers in several states that $3.6 billion for planned military projects will be diverted to pay for 11 border construction projects along the southern border.

These Are The Military Projects Losing Funding To Trump's Border Wall

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

We learned today exactly which military construction projects would be canceled to pay for a border wall. Now this move has been expected since earlier this year when President Trump declared a national emergency to free up funds for a wall on the U.S. southern border with Mexico. Congressional Democrats are fuming.

NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales has been following all this. She's here in the studio now.

Hi.

CLAUDIA GRISALES, BYLINE: Hi. Thanks for having me.

KELLY: Glad to have you here. So I'm trying to follow these budget lines. Remind me whose money this is and under whose authority it's being diverted.

GRISALES: Well, this goes back to February when President Trump declared a national emergency to take $8 billion from existing budgets at agencies like the Pentagon. Of that, $3.6 billion would come from canceled military construction projects. And for months, it's been a well-kept secret who would lose out. And this week, the Pentagon started revealing details to lawmakers. Here's Defense Secretary Mark Esper defending the move.

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MARK ESPER: And so that process is ongoing today. We will be reaching out to affected lawmakers and - to apprise them before we make anything public.

KELLY: All right, so, Claudia, make it public. What are the details here? What's being cut?

GRISALES: Well, the Pentagon finally released the full list of specific projects that will get shelved. They released the list to lawmakers, and we obtained it from a congressional aide. And it shows that half - $1.8 billion - will come from the U.S. and the other half from overseas installations.

At the Military Academy at West Point, they will lose $160 million alone in projects for their engineering center and a parking structure. I talked to the Democratic lawmaker who represents that district, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney. Here's what he had to say.

SEAN PATRICK MALONEY: As you know, this was just sprung on the American people and on the military. And it has an implication. That's what I'm trying to say. There is a tradeoff that the president is going to push on to the military, and it's not the one they want.

GRISALES: And his district is not alone. And lawmakers like Maloney are furious because the wall is part of Trump's campaign promise, but he also said Mexico would be paying for the wall.

KELLY: Right.

GRISALES: And West Point isn't alone. The Pentagon has listed cuts for $77 million in Virginia. And Arizona will lose a $30 million project. And there's dozens more around the country on the list. And while Democrats are saying these cuts put military readiness at risk, one Republican senator in Arizona, Martha McSally, downplayed the impact for her state. She's in a tough reelection fight, and she's backing the need for resources for a border wall.

KELLY: What is the Pentagon saying? Are they weighing in with any kind of comment about having to shift money away from projects that they had planned?

GRISALES: Right. They have said repeatedly in testimony and in interviews that they're following the president's orders. He has the authority to declare a national emergency. He did. And they're following through.

In a letter to lawmakers, Esper said the plans will fund 11 border projects in California, Texas and Arizona. And there's already court challenges underway to challenge the president's authority to shift this money that Congress already allocated. And come next week, Congress returns from an extended recess to work out the details of spending bills for various federal agencies. And while they have this broad budget deal in line, there's a fight for border wall money that could become a very contentious issue.

KELLY: Yet more debate in Congress over the border wall and who exactly is going to pay for it. That's NPR congressional reporter Claudia Grisales.

Thank you.

GRISALES: Thanks.

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