(CNSNews.com) - Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan assured the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that building the border wall “will not come at the expense” of the DoD’s people, readiness or modernization.
“The top line slates $718 billion for the Department of Defense. Of that total, the budget includes $545 billion for base funding and $164 billion for the overseas contingency operations. Of the overseas contingency operations, $66 billion will go to direct war and enduring requirements and $98 billion will fund base requirements,” the secretary said.
“To round out the numbers, $9.2 billion will fund emergency construction. That includes an estimated $2 billion to rebuild facilities damaged by hurricanes Florence and Michael, up to $3.6 billion to support military construction projects that we’ll award in fiscal year 2020 instead of fiscal year 2019, so we can resource border barrier projects under emergency declaration this year and $3.6 billion in case additional emergency funding is needed for the border,” he said.
“Military construction on the border will not come at the expense of our people, our readiness or our modernization,” he said, adding that “no adversary can be as damaging to our military readiness as budget instability.”
“We built this budget to implement the national defense strategy, and I look forward to working with you to ensure predictability, on time funding at our requested top line so our military can remain the lethal, adaptable and resilient fighting force in the world,” Shanahan added.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) in his opening remarks expressed “serious concerns about the $9.2 billion requested in emergency funding for unspecified military construction projects” - $3.6 billion of which “is intended to replenish funds that may be deferred for military construction projects that Congress already authorized and appropriated to build a wall on the southern border.”
“Even if this funding is replenished, these projects may be delayed or even cancelled,” he said.
“I would also like to know that the Congress has not yet been given a list of projects whose funding may be diverted, and I’m interested if the witnesses can provide some information on that list,” Reed said.
The senator also said the committee “will learn that an additional $3.6 billion of emergency funding in the Defense Department’s budget will be used to build more of the wall, projects that have not been identified in any way and arguably have zero military utility.”