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State bases may lose projects to border wall

Funding for projects at four New Mexico military bases may instead be used to construct a barrier on the border with Mexico under President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration.

Rep. Deb Haaland

The White House released a Department of Defense list on Monday of construction projects where funding could be diverted for use to construct a border wall. When declaring a national emergency last month, Trump announced up to $3.6 billion could be used for the wall. Six projects totaling $187.5 million from the state’s military installations are on the list.

New Mexico projects on the list include:

• $40 million for an information systems facility at White Sands Missile Range;

• $42 million for dangerous cargo pad relocation at Cannon Air Force Base;

Sen. Martin Heinrich

• $7 million to upgrade the Wyoming Gate and $9.3 million to replace Fire Station 3 at Kirtland Air Force Base; and

• $85 million for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) training facility and $4.2 million for a UAV control station facility at Holloman Air Force Base.

Funding for the projects has been appropriated, but contracts have not yet been awarded, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall’s office said Tuesday.

The Cannon project is expected to be awarded in August. Contracts for Holloman are expected to be awarded in May this year and March 2020.

The contract for Kirtland for the Wyoming gate is expected in July 2020. The contract for the fire station replacement is expected in August of this year.

The contract for the White Sands project is expected in February 2020.

Sen. Tom Udall

Udall, D-N.M., a member of the Appropriations Committee, said funding for the projects were “appropriated deliberately, and to help our bases and military installations fulfill their essential missions.”

“Potentially raiding critical funding from White Sands, Holloman, Cannon and Kirtland will only make us less safe and less secure,” Udall said. “The president is playing politics with military readiness and putting his border wall ahead of our safety and our service members.”

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Deb Haaland, both Democrats, also condemned the possible diversion of funds from military construction projects.

“Threatening the readiness of our men and women serving in our military endangers our national security,” Heinrich said in a statement. “We cannot allow President Trump to raid taxpayer dollars meant to help our military defend our nation to pay for a wall that New Mexicans don’t want or need. I will do everything I can to oppose this effort to steal from our military to build a wasteful border wall under the false pretense of a national emergency.”

Haaland said, “President Trump is putting military families in my district at risk for a political ploy, and it’s unacceptable. Military families in our state deserve better than to be added to the list of people President Trump has taken hostage for his senseless border wall.”

The president’s proposed budget for fiscal 2020 would restore that money for military construction and provide an additional $3.6 billion “in case additional emergency funding is needed for the border,” Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a Bloomberg News story.

In the same story, Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said no programs scheduled to start before the end of September are affected.

“There’s no list of projects that are absolutely going to not be funded so that the wall can be,” Mulvaney said.

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