WASHINGTON - The U.S. Defense Department has provided Congress with a list of possible military construction projects that it could cut to help pay for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border that President Donald Trump has ordered to be constructed.
Acting Pentagon Chief Patrick Shanahan sent the list to Congress on Monday, a day after a tense congressional hearing in which Democratic senators demanded a list from the military about which projects could be impacted.
The list includes several hundred construction projects across dozens of U.S. states as well as U.S. bases across the world. Defense department officials say not all the projects on the list would be cut, as the combined cost of all the listed construction is around $12.9 billion, far more than the $3.6 billion that Trump has sought to take from the military budget.
Senator Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, released the list of at-risk military projects to the media, and criticized Trump for his plans to use military funding for the wall.
“What President Trump is doing is a slap in the face to our military that makes our border and the country less secure. He is planning to take funds from real, effective operational priorities and needed projects and divert them to his vanity wall,” he said in a statement.
Last month, Trump declared a national emergency in an effort to build a wall at the U.S. southern border after not being able to get funding approval from Congress. The declaration allows Trump to use money from the military’s construction budget to help pay for the wall.
Congress formally rejected Trump's emergency declaration last week, with the Senate passing a measure to disapprove of the executive action after the House had done so earlier. A dozen Republicans joined with Senate Democrats to back the resolution.
Following the vote, Trump issued the first veto of his presidency to override the congressional measure.
"Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it," Trump said Friday in the Oval Office.
Surrounded by law enforcement officials as well as parents of children killed by people in the United States illegally, Trump called the congressional action “dangerous” and “reckless.”
Democrats hope releasing the list of potential military cuts will make lawmakers from impacted states more likely to vote to override Trump’s veto. A two-thirds majority in both the House and Senate is needed to overcome a presidential veto.
A spokesperson for Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma and the chairman of the Armed Services panel, said the list of potential military construction to be cut “is not a list of projects that will definitively be impacted.”
Inhofe looks forward to working with military officials to “determine projects that would allow for the use of the armed forces without negatively affecting any military construction projects," the spokeswoman added.
The Pentagon said no military construction projects that have been funded through September 2019 will be impacted, and said only those projects that have yet to be funded in the next fiscal year could see reductions or cuts. It also said that no military housing projects will be affected.
Trump has argued the situation at the U.S. border is a crisis that warrants an emergency declaration, and has said the United States is facing an invasion of people trying to enter the country illegally.
Democrats have largely opposed building a wall on the southern border. Republicans who voted against Trump’s national security declaration said that while they supported increasing security on the southern border, they did not support Trump’s attempt to bypass Congress.
Congress has not funded Trump's border wall requests during the more than two years he has been in office, including during the first two years when Republicans were in control of both houses of Congress.
Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb contributed to this report.