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$112M could be taken from 5 Ohio military projects to fund Trump’s emergency wall

Airman First Class Sabrina Zarate (left) and Senior Airman Melvin Williamson (right), 88th Communication Squadron server operations system administrators, perform routine maintenance on a Wright-Patterson Air Force Base computer server bank, May 11, 2017. The server operation team ensures maximum access capability to WPAFB computer systems with quick response solutions to operational malfunctions. (Al Bright/U.S. Air Force)

About $112 million worth of planned Ohio military construction projects are in the pool of projects that may lose funding so that President Donald Trump can help finance a wall on the U.S.–Mexico border.

The list of potential cuts, which was released Monday by Senate Democrats, could impact the first installment of a long-coveted intelligence center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton as well as smaller construction projects at Camp Ravenna, Mansfield, Toledo and Youngstown. Trump has declared a national emergency in order to redirect federal dollars already approved by Congress for other uses to wall construction.

The overall pool of projects — which comes from fiscal years 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 — totals $12.9 billion, which is far more than the $3.6 billion in military construction dollars that Trump has said he would need to help build his wall. The list is of projects that have not been contracted out, and not all would be affected.

“We know President Trump wants to take money from our national security accounts to pay for his wall, and now we have a list of some of the projects and needed base repairs that could be derailed or put on the chopping block as a result,” said Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Monday marked the first time the Pentagon had provided Congress with a list of military construction projects which could be delayed to build the border barrier. Even though the Ohio projects are included on the list, it does not guarantee that they will be delayed.

Some of the amounts behind the projects on the list are:

• $61 million, the first of three installments for a new building to host the National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The intelligence center currently is housed at a World War II-era building on the base.

• $8.8 million to relocate the main gate at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

• $7.4 million for a new machine gun range at Camp James A. Garfield near Ravenna.

• $6.8 million for a new fire/crash rescue station at Wright-Patterson.

• $13 million for a replacement fire station at Mansfield Lahm Airport.

• $15 million for a hangar at Toledo Express Airport.

“The president’s decision to go around Congress and take funding away from our military to support his vanity project is reckless and irresponsible,” said Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown.

“After last week’s bipartisan rebuke by Congress, I hope the president would realize that any attempt to rob Ohio of these funds would be met with vehement opposition.”

Morgan Rako, a spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Turner, R–Dayton, said “not all” of the projects will be affected. “This list does not indicate which projects specifically will have delayed funding, if any.”

Turner fought the use of military construction dollars for the wall but nonetheless did not vote to overturn the national emergency declaration, calling the vote a “political ploy” meant to help House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, did vote to overturn the emergency, saying while he supports a border wall, he believed using a national emergency to pay for it violated the constitutional separation of powers.

Rako said Trump’s proposed fiscal year 2020 budget includes $121 million for the intelligence center — the final two installments of the $182 million project.

“Congressman Turner is committed to continuing to work with the administration to make this expansion at Wright-Patt a reality,” Rako said.

But Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley criticized Turner for not voting to scrap Trump’s declaration of a national emergency. She said “one thing we have done in (a bipartisan fashion) is protect Wright-Patterson Air Force Base no matter what, and I found his vote disappointing.”

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles, said Trump’s “fake national emergency is jeopardizing critical military projects in Ohio.”

“Not only is the president undermining Congress and the Constitution, his actions make America and our service members less secure and less prepared to deal with threats at home and abroad,” he said. “We should be ensuring our service members have the resources they need to do their job — taking already appropriated funding does the opposite.”

State Rep. Tavia Galonski, D-Akron, tweeted in response to The Dispatch breaking the news: “This is outrageous. Hasn’t Ohio had enough of having our resources gutted?!”

And state Sen. Tina Maharath, D-Columbus, added on Twitter: “I just threw up in my mouth.”


© 2019 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.