By Susan A. Davis
San Diego has long been considered a military town. We understand how important it is to take care of our military families and veterans. We also understand the importance of national defense spending in supporting our service members and the economic impact it has on our region.
Our strong military presence is part of the reason I chose to serve on the House Armed Services Committee. Ensuring that our men and women in uniform and families have the resources and support they need has always been a priority.
The Trump administration’s effort to take money from our military to build his border wall puts that support in jeopardy. Nearly $3 billion in military construction projects are targeted to lose funding.
This will hurt our troops, national security, and violate the Constitution, which expressly gives Congress the power to determine how tax dollars are spent.
Military construction projects certainly may not get as much attention as other parts of the defense budget, but they are a critical component of our national security.
Our service members would simply not be able to do their jobs without the infrastructure of bases, hangars, operation facilities, readiness centers, water supplies, and housing.
Each year, Congress allocates billions of tax dollars on projects around the globe to build up and improve that infrastructure. The appropriations process for military construction projects is a rare act of bipartisanship in Congress.
But the process has been thrown into uncertainty with President Trump’s attempt to circumvent Congress and the Constitution by diverting funds for military construction to fund his border wall.
We know the President is desperate for his border wall. It was a campaign promise to his base. He shut the government down for weeks to force Congress to provide funds for his border wall, a wall he said Mexico was going to pay for.
Instead, it looks like our military is going to pay for it.
Unable to coerce Congress to fund the border wall due to bipartisan opposition for it in Congress, the president declared a national emergency. Such a declaration — which is being challenged in court — would allow the president take billions of tax dollars from military construction projects to construct his border wall.
In September, the Department of Defense sent to Congress a list of 127 projects that will lose funding. The total amount was $3.7 billion.
San Diego was spared from the chopping block, but that doesn’t mean it might not impact our region or our service members and their families. When President Trump declared his national emergency in February, a preliminary list included almost $1 billion in San Diego-area projects. So we know that some San Diego projects were on the radar and could be targeted in the future.
Cost estimates to build a border wall along the nearly 3,000-mile border with Mexico go as high as $70 billion. So this round of $3.7 billion being taken from our military will barely cover the initial costs.
While San Diego didn’t lose any projects, California will lose $8 million for a flight simulator at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station. This C-130 simulator is used to train pilots for disaster response.
San Diego has experienced its fair share of devastating wildfires. It is not uncommon for the California Air National Guard to aid firefighters. We want our pilots to have the best training with the best equipment, and taking this $8 million from our pilots will only hurt readiness.
Congress continues to fight this unconstitutional money-grab. Using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows Congress to stop overreach by the executive branch, the House and Senate passed with a bipartisan vote to cancel President Trump’s national emergency.
While the President vetoed that bill, the CRA gives Congress another bite of the apple in six months. The Senate last week passed another bill to end the national emergency to protect these vital military construction projects. The House will soon take up the Senate bill.
Multiple court cases are making their way through our judicial system. It was disappointing to have the Supreme Court rule that the administration can move forward with diverting funds while the lower courts deal with the legal challenges.
What kind of precedent will this set? Do these words in the Constitution, “No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law” have any meaning?
Our service members and their families should not be pawns in political fights, especially just to satisfy a campaign promise.
— Congresswoman Davis represents central San Diego, including the communities of Old Town, Kensington, Mission Hills, University Heights, Hillcrest Bankers Hill, North Park, South Park, Talmadge, Normal Heights, as well as La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley and parts of El Cajon and Chula Vista.