March 18, 2019 / 8:05 PM / a month ago

Pentagon tells Congress of projects that could be hit to pay for wall

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Acting Pentagon Chief Patrick Shanahan said on Monday he had provided Congress with a list of projects from the military construction budget that could be cut back in order to help pay for a wall on the border with Mexico.

Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan gestures while speaking to members of the media aboard a military plane prior to his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Pool via REUTERS

Last month Trump declared a national emergency in a bid to fund his promised wall at the U.S.-Mexico border without congressional approval.

The emergency declaration allows the Trump administration to use money from the military construction budget, if needed.

Trump issued the first veto of his presidency on Friday to block a measure passed by Democrats and Republicans in Congress that would terminate his emergency declaration for a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico to stem illegal immigration and crime.

Speaking before the start of his meeting with his French counterpart, Shanahan was asked if he had sent the list of projects to Congress.

“I have,” Shanahan said.

The more than 20-page document seen by Reuters included all the projects that were not awarded funding as of Dec. 31 2018.

The list includes a cemetery at the U.S. Military Academy in New York and a command and control facility at Camp Tango in South Korea.

It is essentially up to Congress to go through the list and figure out which projects will not be affected, including military housing, barracks and projects that have already been awarded funding.

The list is unlikely to satisfy Congress.

“This list is wholly insufficient and just tells Congress what projects it already approved,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for Representative Nita Lowey, a Democrat and chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee.

“This appears to be nothing more than another stall tactic designed to delay the political consequences of President Trump’s emergency declaration,” Hollander said.

In a statement, the Pentagon said the pool of projects included was valued at about $12.9 billion. The Pentagon has said it could use about $3.6 billion from the military construction budget this year, if needed.

The issue was highlighted during a tense Congressional hearing on Thursday, when Democratic Senators demanded that they be provided a list of military that could be impacted if funding was used to build a wall.

“We know President Trump wants to take money from our national security accounts to pay for his wall, and now we have a list of some of the projects and needed base repairs that could be derailed or put on the chopping block as a result,” Senator Jack Reed said in a statement.

Reporting by Idrees Ali, Richard Cowan, Patricia Zengerle and Mike Stone; Editing by Alistair Bell

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