WASHINGTON – New York’s two representatives in the U.S. Senate are blasting the Trump administration for its decision to divert $3.6 billion in funding from projects involving the Department of Defense in order to fund the construction of portions of a border wall between the United States and Mexico.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, released statements Wednesday in response to the decision. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper notified Congressional members of this decision Tuesday night, and the Department of Defense confirmed Wednesday that $160 million would be repurposed from funding allocated for an engineering center and supporting structures at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The Trump administration’s decision would affect a total of 127 military construction projects across the country. Earlier this year, Schumer and Gillibrand called on the Department of Defense to protect critical funding for New York’s military construction projects from being diverted for the construction of the border wall.
“The president is stripping billions of dollars of funding needed to support our service members at installations like West Point, in order to build an ineffective and misguided southern border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for. This is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who sacrifice so much to defend our liberty,” said Senator Schumer. “When it comes to New York’s world-class military facilities and installations like West Point, our chief focus must be investing the necessary funds so that our military is prepared to face the challenges of the future, not raiding them to pay for an unnecessary and expensive vanity project that has been rejected by Congress, time and time again. This funding was specifically designated for keeping our military the best trained, best protected, best equipped fighting force in the world, it must be used as such.”
“Constructing a wall at the Southern border would be a waste of taxpayer money that will do nothing to advance our national security interests. President Trump is now stealing money from West Point and 126 other military installation projects across the country in order to work around Congress and build this needless vanity project. Diverting this defense funding eliminates mission-critical facilities, placing our national security at risk and limiting the military’s ability to compete with our country’s most powerful adversaries,” said Senator Gillibrand. “I am calling on President Trump and Defense Secretary Esper to immediately reverse this decision and put the wellbeing of the brave men and women who serve our country first.”
In recent Fiscal Years, Congress has allocated over $300 million in military construction funding for projects at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, the United States Military Academy at West Point, Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton, and Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) in Niagara Falls.