Trump strips $160 million from West Point project to reallocate for controversial border wall
The Trump administration will strip $160 million from West Point as part of a costly plan to build parts of the president’s long-promised border wall without congressional approval, according to Pentagon records.
The elite Army academy in upstate New York is one of 127 military facilities across the country and the world that is scrapping construction projects to redirect funds toward construction of the behemoth border barrier that President Trump used to promise Mexico would pay for, according to Defense Department materials provided to Congress on Wednesday and obtained by the Daily News.
At West Point, the Pentagon is canceling construction that was set to begin June 2020 on an “Engineer Center” and a “Parking Structure," freeing up $160 million for wall construction.
As part of the sweeping de-funding effort, the Pentagon is redirecting a total of $3.6 billion for wall construction.
Other military construction projects that are being shelved to bankroll Trump’s wall include a “Fleet Maintenance Facility” in Bahrain; a “Working Dog Treatment Facility” at the Guantanamo Bay complex; dining facilities at the Camp Santiago military base in Puerto Rico, and a “Space Control Facility” in Colorado, according to the records.
A “classified location" is being deprived of some $18 million that it was supposed to receive in “utilities and infrastructure support,” the records also show.
Half of $3.6 billion is from domestic projects and the other half is from foreign ones.
Congressional Democrats — who refused to cave to Trump’s demand for border wall cash, resulting in a record 35-day government shutdown earlier this year — were incensed by the plans laid out Wednesday.
“The president is stripping billions of dollars of funding needed to support our service members at installations like West Point, in order to build an ineffective and misguided southern border wall that he promised Mexico would pay for,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. “This is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who sacrifice so much to defend our liberty.”
Schumer’s fellow New York senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, said Trump’s wall obsession is putting the country at risk.
"Diverting this defense funding eliminates mission-critical facilities, placing our national security at risk and limiting the military’s ability to compete with our country’s most powerful adversaries,” said Gillibrand, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee.
The U.S. military funds, which Trump was able to tap into by declaring a national emergency in February after caving on his initial wall cash request to Congress, will bankroll the construction of roughly 175 miles of fencing, representing just a fraction of the 1,954 mile U.S.-Mexico border.
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Trump’s emergency declaration, which is being challenged in court, also freed up about $600 million from the Treasury Department’s asset forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from the Pentagon’s counter-drug activities.
Even though American taxpayers — not Mexico — is now paying for wall construction, Trump was giddy Wednesday before the Pentagon papers dropped and signaled that he sees the border barrier as a key to his 2020 reelection bid.
“The wall is being built. It’s going up rapidly,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “And we think by the end of next year, which will be sometime right after the election actually, but we think we’re going to have close to 500 miles of wall, which will be complete.”