WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 12, 2019) – U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) today pressed Barbara M. Barrett, nominee for Secretary of the Air Force; and Ryan D. McCarthy, nominee for Secretary of the Army, on their situational awareness of Military Construction projects that have been recently stripped of funding by the Trump Administration to build a border wall on the U.S. Southwest Border. Senator Heinrich continued to ask about their plans to protect this funding, the health and safety of the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services, and the national security implications of the proposed cuts.
On September 4, Senator Heinrich was informed that President Trump was raiding $125 million from New Mexico military construction projects, including $85 million from a project at Holloman Air Force Base and $40 million from a project at White Sands Missile Range (WSMR), to pay for a border wall. In a phone call, the Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force John Roth confirmed that the two New Mexico projects slated to begin construction in the coming year would lose funding and face an uncertain future.
In total, the Trump Administration plans to raid $3.6 billion from important projects at military installations across the country and the world to pay for the president’s ineffective wall. Congress did not appropriate this money to fund the president’s wall, but rather to pay for critical military construction projects to benefit service members, their families, and our national security. All projects selected for cancellation had been fully vetted and requested by the Department of Defense in annual presidential budget requests. But the president is abusing the National Emergencies Act in an unprecedented way to divert money from these projects to fund border wall construction for political purposes.
The $85 million project at Holloman that is being raided by President Trump is meant to improve critical training facilities being used to shore up the current Air Force MQ-9 pilot shortfall, replacing aging and failing repurposed buildings that currently do not meet Air Force mission needs. The $40 million project at WSMR in jeopardy is meant to replace the aging and fire damaged information systems facility, and to prepare the range to take on the next generation of missile and weapons testing, including future hypersonic testing.
A list of witnesses and testimony, and the archived webcast of today's hearing is available here.