When the long-awaited border wall military construction list gets whittled down — based on the Pentagon’s rules on what it intends to spare — it becomes a lot clearer which states have the most to lose.
First, the rules: the Pentagon has said it will not cut funds for any military housing or barracks.
Second, any project that had an award date prior to September 2019 would also be spared.
Based on those rules, almost two-thirds of the the original, massive $12.8 billion list of candidate projects the Pentagon released Monday are off the chopping block.
Importantly, though, it leaves an estimated $4.3 billion in projects the Pentagon plans to go after. The Pentagon has said in the end, no projects would be lost due to funds being pulled from the wall — as long as Congress fully funds its 2020 request to replenish those funds, that is.
Military Times analyzed the list, and using the Pentagon’s rule set, eliminated projects that would be spared. The final $4.3 billion total is an estimate, as there are projects in that total where it was not clear they would be protected.
So which installations have the most to lose?
The U.S. Military Academy in New York could lose up to $160 million it planned for a new engineering center and parking center.
Poland — the location of a possible future “Fort Trump” — would lose almost $130 million in planned spending that is also closely tied to NATO’s key initiative to improve logistics. The projects that would lose funding in Poland include three “European Defense Initiative” projects: A $52 million ammunition storage facility; $51 million for a forward staging area and $6.4 million to support new rail extensions.
It’s likely the potential cuts will face significant pushback on Capitol Hill. On Monday, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., blasted the list as plans to “pilfer the military construction accounts and circumvent the intended nature of the law, while simultaneously abusing the trust of the American people.”
The list of projects and their approximate $4 billion price tag marries up with what officials traveling with Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told reporters in Europe last month, that the Pentagon intends to use almost all of those eligible military construction projects on the wall.
The projects are eligible to be used because of the president’s declaration of a national emergency. Congress voted to overturn that emergency in a rare bicameral rebuke, but Trump vetoed Congress’ overturn and it is unlikely there are the votes in Congress to override the veto, even though the declaration outraged congressional Democrats and some Republicans, who call it a dangerous overreach of executive branch budget powers.
Here are other states with spending at risk:
- WASHINGTON: $162 million at Bangor submarine base/Naval Base Kitsap
- TEXAS: $29.6 million at Fort Bliss; $66.5 million at Joint Base San Antonio
- NEW MEXICO: $40 million at White Sands; $85 million at Holloman Air Force Base
- NORTH DAKOTA: $66 million at Minot Air Force Base
- WYOMING: $62 million at F.E. Warren Air Force Base
Tara Copp is the Pentagon Bureau Chief for Military Times and author of the award-winning military nonfiction "The Warbird: Three Heroes. Two Wars. One Story."