Shanahan Fails to Turn Over List of MilCon Projects Affected by Border Wall

FILE - In this June 21, 2006 file photo, members of the California National Guard work next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence near the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego.  (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)
FILE - In this June 21, 2006 file photo, members of the California National Guard work next to the U.S.-Mexico border fence near the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy, File)

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan failed to keep a public pledge to turn over a $3.6 billion list of military construction projects that would be put on hold to fund the border wall.

Shanahan made the promise Thursday at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying the list would be delivered by the end of the day. But he didn't follow through, according to Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, the committee's ranking member.

In a statement, he said Shanahan phoned late Thursday to say the list would not be forthcoming. Reed said Shanahan "informed me he is unable to keep his commitment to share the list of what will be cut to pay for the vanity wall."

"This unacceptable series of evasions should trouble members of Congress, regardless of political party," said Reed, one of several senators who grilled Shanahan on President Donald Trump's plan to use a national emergency declaration to divert money appropriated by Congress for military construction to pay for the wall.

On Friday, before Shanahan was to go into meetings with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at the Pentagon, his spokesman said via email that the list was being prepared and would possibly be sent over later Friday.

"We are in the final stages of organizing the list for release to the appropriate government officials," the spokesman told Military.com.

It’s not clear which government authorities will receive the list.

Shanahan and other Pentagon officials have said previously that badly needed military housing and barracks repair and construction projects would not be on the list.

The diversion of funds already authorized and appropriated by Congress in the fiscal 2019 budget to pay for the wall was a factor in the 59-41 vote by the Senate on Thursday to back the "motion of disapproval" of Trump's national emergency, which was passed overwhelmingly by the House last week.

Twelve Republicans, mainly citing Congress' "power of the purse" under the Constitution, joined with Democrats to back the measure Trump had lobbied against.

"Never before has a president asked for funding, Congress has not provided it, and the president then has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway," retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, said, explaining his vote against the national emergency on the Senate floor. "Our nation's founders gave to Congress the power to approve all spending so that the president would not have too much power. This check on the executive is a crucial source of our freedom."

In a tweet after the vote, Trump said, "I look forward to VETOING the just passed Democrat inspired Resolution which would OPEN BORDERS while increasing Crime, Drugs, and Trafficking in our Country. I thank all of the Strong Republicans who voted to support Border Security and our desperately needed WALL!"

The White House has expressed confidence that there are not enough votes for the needed two-thirds majority to override a veto, but publication of a list of projects that would go to pay for the border wall in their states and districts could make the vote to support the president more difficult for Republicans.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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