Udall, Democratic Appropriators Demand Answers on DoD Plans to Raid Military Projects to Pay for Border Wall

Udall, Democratic Appropriators Demand Answers on DoD Plans to Raid Military Projects to Pay for Border Wall

Letter Responds to Trump Administration’s Unprecedented Abuse of National Emergency Authority to Raid $3.6 Billion in Military Funds

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall joined members of the Senate Appropriations Committee in opposing the Department of Defense’s (DOD) decision to allow President Trump to raid $3.6 billion from military construction funding to pay for President Trump’s unnecessary and ineffective border wall, including segments in New Mexico. The senators demand Congress be provided with full details of DOD’s decision to pay for the wall with funds meant to improve military readiness.

“We are opposed to this decision and the damage it will cause to our military and the relationship between Congress and the Department of Defense,” the senators wrote. “[T]the decision to take funds from critical military construction projects is unjustified and will have lasting impacts on our military readiness. It also is contrary to the Congressional intent for section 2808 [national emergencies] and will force actions to limit flexibility and more strictly define how this authority, and others, can be used.”

In their letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, the senators underscored the harm that diverting funding would cause to military readiness and our national security.

The letter was led by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), and Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and was signed by every Democratic member of the Military Construction and Defense Appropriations Subcommittees, including Udall, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

Udall led the Senate resolution which rejected the president’s unprecedented national emergency declaration on a bipartisan vote in March. President Trump vetoed that resolution and is trying to move forward over Congress’ bipartisan objections.

The full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Secretary Esper:

We write in response to your notification pursuant to 10 U.S.C §2808 authorizing the use of unobligated military construction funds for permanent barrier construction along the southern border. We are opposed to this decision and the damage it will cause to our military and the relationship between Congress and the Department of Defense.

As we have previously written, the decision to take funds from critical military construction projects is unjustified and will have lasting impacts on our military readiness. It also is contrary to the Congressional intent for section 2808 and will force actions to limit flexibility and more strictly define how this authority, and others, can be used. Our working relationship, and the inherent trust contained within, has been further degraded and will necessarily result in stricter controls on funding appropriated.

We ask that you provide the following information, which is consistent with previous notifications under this authority and in accordance with DoD Financial Management Regulation guidance:

DD 1391 forms providing alternatives considered and reasons for their non-selection;

An explanation of when the requirement was identified and how it was planned or programmed for execution;

A complete description of the source of funds to be used for the project(s), including the specific reasons as to why the funding is available and associated notifications under 10 U.S.C. 2853;

An expected timeline and acquisition method for the border wall project(s); and

Rationale as to why these project(s) should not be deferred to a future budget request.

We also expect a full justification of how the decision to cancel was made for each project selected and why a border wall is more important to our national security and the wellbeing of our service members and their families than these projects. We look forward to a prompt and thorough response in order to begin to restore a functional working relationship.