Pentagon defers 127 military projects, including 1 in Arizona, for border wall

Sep 4, 2019, 12:00 PM | Updated: 1:22 pm
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)...
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

PHOENIX — One military project in Arizona will be impacted following the Pentagon’s approval of a plan to shift $3.6 billion to the construction of 175 miles of border wall, according to U.S. Sen. Martha McSally.

The Arizona Republican said in a statement Wednesday that the Fort Huachuca Ground Transport Equipment Building project, which would have cost $30 million, was the one being deferred.

McSally said the project in Sierra Vista was already delayed “due to unforeseen environmental issues at the construction site.”

Environmental cleanup will continue at the site until August 2020, she said.

“The fact of the matter is that had the Army completed this sooner, the project would not have been delayed and would not have even been up for discussion,” McSally said.

“I spoke to Acting Army Secretary (Ryan) McCarthy to convey my frustration with the delay and he assured me that this project will be completed in a timely manner once the cleanup is complete.”

Mark Kelly, McSally’s likely Democratic challenger in the 2020 election, said she failed “to put Arizona first.”

“Fort Huachuca and our national security are suffering the consequences of her political maneuvering,” he said in a statement.

“Senator McSally told Arizonans she had protected funding for Arizona military bases, and the fact is that she didn’t keep her word.”

U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego of Arizona also criticized the plan and McSally’s support of it.

“We went from Mexico will pay for it, to Arizona will pay for it. Heck of a job @SenMcSallyAZ,” the Democrat said on Twitter.

He said he hopes the National Defense Authorization Act that will be passed later this year will include his provision to stop President Donald Trump from doing something similar again.

“President Trump is jeopardizing our military readiness and national security by using our armed services as a bottomless piggy bank to execute his worst-laid political plans,” Gallego said in a statement.

Congress approved $1.375 billion for wall construction in this year’s budget, the same as the previous year and far less than the $5.7 billion that the White House sought.

Trump grudgingly accepted the money to end a 35-day government shutdown in February but simultaneously declared a national emergency to take money from other government accounts, identifying up to $8.1 billion for wall construction.

The transferred funds include $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund, $2.5 billion from Defense Department counterdrug activities and the $3.6 billion pot for military housing construction.

The Pentagon reviewed the list of military projects and said none that provided housing or critical infrastructure for troops would be affected.

Defense officials also said they would focus on projects set to begin in 2020 and beyond, with the hope that the money could eventually be restored by Congress.

The first Pentagon-funded wall project broke ground in Arizona in July.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Pentagon defers 127 military projects, including 1 in Arizona, for border wall