WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich condemned the Department of Defense’s (DOD) announcement that President Trump is 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 President Trump’s border wall. In a phone call today, the Assistant Secretary for the Air Force John Henderson 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 of which had been fully vetted and requested by DOD and the armed services 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 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 an aging and failing temporary building at Holloman Air Force Base that currently does not meet Air Force mission needs. The $40 million project at WSMR that is threatened 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.
Udall and Heinrich forcefully denounced the Trump administration’s actions:
Udall said: “This is an outrageous and reckless action by President Trump and his administration – robbing critical funding for projects in New Mexico and redirecting those funds to President Trump’s wasteful, ineffective, and unnecessary border wall. Congress did not appropriate this money for the president’s vanity project, we appropriated it for projects that are key improvements for our service members in New Mexico and for our national security. Our men and women in uniform at Holloman, White Sands, and across our state and our country deserve better. Putting a political pet project ahead of our armed forces and our national security is shameful. Both the House and the Senate voted to oppose this misuse of national emergency authority to steal military funds by bipartisan majorities earlier this year, and I will not stop fighting this unconstitutional abuse of authority.”
Heinrich said: “I visited the current RPA training facility at Holloman earlier this year. The building is falling apart, with some equipment being held together with duct tape. To say this facility, which supports training for 100 percent of the Air Force’s MQ-9 crews, urgently needs to be replaced would be an understatement. The White House is also threatening funding to replace an outdated testing and evaluation facility at White Sands Missile Range that was built in 1962 and recently caught on fire. Stealing funding from these essential military construction projects to pay for the president’s political pet project is an unconscionable attack on military readiness and the health and safety of our men and women in uniform.”