U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono condemned President Donald Trump’s declaration today of a national emergency to build more than 234 miles of a steel-barrier wall on the border with Mexico.
Trump intends to redirect about $3.5 billion in military construction funding as part of an $8 billion border wall plan.
“To subvert Congress’s constitutional appropriations authority by invoking an emergency is an unlawful abuse of power,” Schatz (D, Hawaii) said in a news release. “As an independent co-equal branch of government, we cannot allow this president to violate the separation of powers.”
“We certainly cannot allow him to rob our military of $3.5 billion for critical construction projects that serve our troops, support our allies and deter our adversaries — all to build a wall that will do nothing to protect America,” Schatz added.
In a separate statement, fellow Democrat Hirono said, “Let’s call today’s action what it is: a blatant, illegal power grab that steals money from our military to advance Donald Trump’s personal agenda. Diverting billions of dollars from planned investments in critical military projects across the world doesn’t make us safer.”
Congress appropriates hundreds of millions in Hawaii each year for military construction projects including a new Army command and control center at Fort Shafter, MV-22 Osprey landing pads at the Marine Corps base, and improvements to the National Security Agency facility in Kunia.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., sent a letter today to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan asking for a list of all military construction projects affected by the president’s decision.
During comments today in the Rose Garden, Trump said he obtained $716 billion for the military last year, so “when I need $2 billion, $3 billion (of that) for a wall, which is a very important instrument … this is a very, very small amount that we’re asking for.”
The Trump administration said a new budget is due to be transmitted to Congress next month and the plan is to reimburse the Defense Department for the redirected military construction money.