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Pentagon Redirects Border Wall Funds To Defense Projects

June 17, 2021 by Daniel Mollenkamp
President Donald Trump tours the border wall prototypes near the Otay Mesa Port of Entry in San Diego County, Calif., on March 13, 2018. (K.C. Alfred/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

WASHINGTON- The U.S. Department of Defense has released its plan for the nearly $2.2 billion in funds that were redirected for the border wall under the Trump administration.

The money will go to a broad set of improvements related to the armed forces, according to documents recently released by the Pentagon. In total, the money will restore 66 projects across 16 countries, 11 states, and three territories, the Pentagon said.

Funding restorations in the states include $10,000 for a missile field expansion in Alaska, $25,800 for an Air Force fire and rescue crash station in Florida, as well as for the construction of arms ranges, defense access roads, and maintenance facilities in various places across the country.

In the American territories, the money will go to Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In Puerto Rico, for instance, the funding will revive Army Guard projects, including readiness and equipment centers and vehicle and aircraft maintenance. In Guam, the projects will include $28,600 for munitions storage for the Air Force.

American military presence abroad will receive a large chunk of the funds, with $1,259,430 going towards far-ranging projects like airfield upgrades and munitions storage for the U.S. Air Force in Slovakia and communication facilities related to the legal office for the U.S. Army in Guantanamo Bay.

During his term, President Trump had diverted money for the construction of the wall along the southern border, which had been a signature promise of his campaign. The diversions were criticized by Democrats as an attempt to usurp Congress’ power of the purse, and as potentially harming American national security.

A deputy spokesperson for the Pentagon said last month that the diverted money was initially intended to fund schools for military children, overseas military construction projects, and the National Guard and Reserve equipment account.

This latest Pentagon plan was the result of a presidential proclamation issued by the Biden administration in January that ordered the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security to stop redirecting funds for the border wall, pause construction, and to find appropriate places to redirect the unobligated funds that had been diverted for the wall.

The Biden proclamation, issued on his first day in office, had also described Trump’s border wall as an unserious policy and a “waste of money” that harms national security.

“When President Trump raided much-needed funding for critical military construction projects that supported our service members to pay for his border wall, he jeopardized military readiness by ripping away funds to repair a hazardous waste storage facility at Naval Station Norfolk, provide childcare services for service members at Joint Base Andrews, and much more,” Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, said in a written comment following the Pentagon’s announcement that it was studying where to revert the funds.

Republican members of the Appropriations Committee had argued that scrapping the border wall would itself hurt security at the southern border.

The Pentagon had officially announced the process to revert the funds a little more than a month ago.

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