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Pentagon IDs $452M in Hawaii military funding for border wall plan

The Pentagon identified a pool today of $12.9 billion in unobligated military construction funding — including $452 million for projects in Hawaii — that could be tapped to help build President Donald Trump’s southern border wall.

The list of Hawaii projects includes:

>> $25 million for a barracks at Pohakuloa Training Area on Hawaii island.

>> $50 million for a helicopter parking apron at Wheeler Army Airfield.

>> $45 million for a drydock waterfront facility at the shipyard.

>> $73.2 million for a Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam sewer line.

>> $66.1 million for a corrosion control hangar at the Marine Corps base at Kaneohe Bay.

>> $26.5 million for security improvements at Kaneohe Bay’s Mokapu Gate.

>> $78.3 million for a Pearl City water transmission line.

>> 65.9 million for a communications/cryptologic facility in Wahiawa.

>> $17 million to construct an addition to a Hawaii Air Guard F-22 Raptor fighter facility at Hickam.

>> $5.5 million for an Air Force Reserve consolidated training facility at Hickam.

The bulk of the $12.9 billion in identified funding derives from projects for fiscal 2018 and 2019 that were unawarded as of Dec. 31.

“The appearance of any project within the pool does not mean that the project will, in fact, be used” to pay for additional border wall with Mexico, the Defense Department said in accompanying language.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat and ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, along U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin of Illinois and Patrick Leahy from Vermont, complained of Trump administration “madness” in a joint statement.

“Earlier today, the Department of Defense provided Congress with a list of projects which may be impacted by the president’s desire to divert military funding to pay for his border wall,” the Democratic lawmakers said. “The department claims that it will exempt housing, barracks, and dormitories — and in the process quietly acknowledges that more than $10 billion of other top priorities that the military and their families have requested over the last several years is on the chopping block in order to placate the president.”

“This madness will not stop until more of our Republican colleagues are willing to put the military ahead of party politics,” the trio said.

Trump on Feb. 15 declared a national emergency so he could build hundreds of miles of additional steel border wall with Mexico. Administration officials said they would look at redirecting $3.6 billion in funding from “lower priority” military construction projects for the wall and would make sure “that nothing impacts lethality and readiness.

The Pentagon wants to backfill the redirected military construction funding in its $718 billion 2020 defense budget request.

Schatz and other lawmakers on March 7 sent a letter to Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan asking for more details about the military construction reallocation.

“We request that you provide to us the list of the projects deemed less important than building a wall along the southern border,” Schatz and the others said.

The Senate on Thursday voted to overturn Trump’s emergency declaration, but the president vetoed the resolution the next day.

Shanahan testified on the defense budget posture Thursday and said $3.6 billion is included to restore project funding being diverted this year, while another $3.6 billion is programmed “in case additional emergency funding is needed at the border.”

“Military construction on the border will not come at the expense of our people, our readiness or our modernization,” Shanahan said.

The Pentagon recently said it was sending 3,750 more troops to the border for a force of about 4,350 active duty and 2,200 National Guard members.

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