Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer and U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee, released the following statements in response to the Trump administration’s decision to redirect $3.6 billion in funding for military construction projects across the country for the construction of a border wall. U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper notified Congressional members of this decision last night, and the Department of Defense confirmed this morning that $160 million would be repurposed from funding allocated for an engineering center and supporting structures at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
“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. This is a slap in the face to the members of the Armed Forces who sacrifice so much to defend our liberty,” said Senator Schumer. “The United States Military Academy at West Point was founded as an engineering school, designed to ensure that our Army’s leaders had access to the best resources and education that would enable them to succeed in their military careers in defense of our nation. Now, we find out that funds that Congress appropriated to design and build a state-of-the-art engineering center at West Point have been redirected for an expensive and ineffective wall at the southern border. When it comes to New York’s world-class military facilities and installations like West Point, our chief focus must be investing the necessary funds so that our military is prepared to face the challenges of the future, not raiding them to pay for an unnecessary and expensive vanity project that has been rejected by Congress, time and time again. This funding was specifically designated for keeping our military the best trained, best protected, best equipped fighting force in the world, it must be used as such.”
“Constructing a wall at the Southern border would be a waste of taxpayer money that will do nothing to advance our national security interests. President Trump is now stealing money from West Point and 126 other military installation projects across the country in order to work around Congress and build this needless vanity project. 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 Senator Gillibrand, Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee. “The targeted military construction projects, including the Engineering Center at West Point, have undergone a thorough review process by the military and by Congress and were determined necessary for military operations, unlike the President’s border wall. I am calling on President Trump and Defense Secretary Esper to immediately reverse this decision and put the wellbeing of the brave men and women who serve our country first.”
The Trump administration’s decision would affect 127 military construction projects across the country, including $160 million for the construction of an engineering center and attendant facilities at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Earlier this year, Schumer and Gillibrand called on the Department of Defense to protect critical funding for New York’s military construction projects from being diverted for the construction of the border wall. In recent Fiscal Years, Congress has allocated over $300 million in military construction funding for projects at the Air Force Research Laboratory in Rome, the United States Military Academy at West Point, Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton, and Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (NFARS) in Niagara Falls.