Senate Uses Pandemic Bill to Fill Accounts Raided For Trump’s Border Wall

July 28, 2020by Mark Satter, CQ-Roll Call (TNS)
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Coronavirus relief programs are due to run out in the coming weeks and months. (Dreamstime/TNS)

WASHINGTON — Billions of dollars included in Senate Republicans’ proposed $1 trillion installment of coronavirus emergency relief funding would restore money for military hardware that was redirected to pay for President Donald Trump’s border wall.

The Trump administration reprogrammed funding for a slew of ships, aircraft and other weaponry earlier this year to pay for the politically contentious wall on the border with Mexico, which Democrats have opposed.

The bill, made public Monday evening, includes money for fighter jets, helicopters, radars, ships and armored vehicles that is exempt from this year’s budget caps because it is considered emergency spending.

The legislation would not only restore funds to some defense programs cut by the White House, but also allow for some political wins on the behalf of its sponsors, like Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

The measure would restore $260 million in funding to the Navy’s Expeditionary Fast Transport Vessel, just short of the $261 million that was reprogrammed. The ship is built in Shelby’s home state of Alabama by Austal USA.

Also restored by the bill is $686 million for the production of the F-35A fighter jet, from which $156 million was redirected to the border wall. The F-35 is produced in Fort Worth, Texas, the home state of Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who co-sponsored the bill.

Another aircraft cut by the White House was the Navy’s P-8A Poseidon, which lost $180 million during reprogramming. The proposed legislation would put over $1 billion back into that program.

Funding for the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account, which lost $1.3 million in the reprogramming, would receive roughly $800 million in the Senate’s version of the pandemic relief package.

Senate Republicans said the defense funds are necessary to offset the economic damage done by the coronavirus.

“The pandemic continues to threaten the defense industrial base and thousands of vulnerable suppliers across the country who support it. That puts thousands and thousands of jobs in jeopardy. The chairman believes Congress must act, not turn a blind eye,” a Shelby spokeswoman said.

“I don’t buy that,” said Todd Harrison, director of defense budget analysis at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The bill shows that Senate Republicans were never happy with the Trump administration taking dollars for specific defense programs and moving that money — even if they agreed with the border wall.”

Harrison warned that the bill should be evaluated in the context of an opening to negotiations with House Democrats. “It’s highly unlikely that the bill will be written into law as it’s currently written,” he said.

Democrats immediately balked at the proposed legislation. In a tweet, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York said that Republicans were fighting for big banks and defense contractors in their proposal, rather than American families.

In a Tuesday statement, Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called the defense money a slush fund.

“The Senate GOP proposal is a sad statement of their values, selling out struggling families at the kitchen table in order to enrich the corporate interests at the boardroom table,” they said.

———

©2020 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

In The News

Health

Voting

Congress

Uptick in Mental Health Problems Prompts Calls for Crisis Intervention
Mental Health
Uptick in Mental Health Problems Prompts Calls for Crisis Intervention
May 14, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- Incidents the past few days in New York City demonstrate why a congressional subcommittee met Thursday to discuss “a national mental health crisis.” Last week, an emotionally disturbed man barricaded himself in a subway motorman’s car, shutting down train service on the rail line... Read More

House GOP Set to Put Trump Defender Stefanik Into No. 3 Post
Congress
House GOP Set to Put Trump Defender Stefanik Into No. 3 Post

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are ready to vault Rep. Elise Stefanik into the ranks of House leadership, with the party hoping to turn the page from its searing civil war over the deposed Rep. Liz Cheney and refocus on winning control of the chamber in next... Read More

Takeaways: Partisan Discord Instead of Jan. 6 Answers
Congress
Takeaways: Partisan Discord Instead of Jan. 6 Answers

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House hearing about what went wrong in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege frequently spiraled into partisan shouting matches on Wednesday, with lawmakers more often blaming each other than thoroughly questioning witnesses about the events of the day.  Democrats and Republicans have so... Read More

Scrum of Challengers Awaits Cheney After House GOP Ouster
Congress
Scrum of Challengers Awaits Cheney After House GOP Ouster

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — For pro-Trump Republicans, removing Rep. Liz Cheney from House GOP leadership was relatively easy. Booting her from office will be another matter. The rush to punish Cheney for her criticism of former President Donald Trump and his loyalists is drawing a cast... Read More

Agreement Eludes Senators On Election Reform Proposal
Congress
Agreement Eludes Senators On Election Reform Proposal
May 12, 2021
by Tom Ramstack

WASHINGTON -- A Senate committee tried Tuesday to amend a bill before sending it off to a final vote that would set national standards for elections. It made little headway in reaching agreement in a sharply divided Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Republicans said it was... Read More

Democrats Press for Broader Voter Access as GOP Resists
Congress
Democrats Press for Broader Voter Access as GOP Resists

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in the U.S. Senate mounted an aggressive case against Democrats' sweeping election and voter-access legislation, pushing to roll back proposals for automatic registration, 24-hour ballot drop boxes and other changes in an increasingly charged national debate. The legislation, a top priority of... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top