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Pingree Warns of Apparent Politicization of Military Project Selection to Fund Border Wall

DOD’s Promise to Pingree Not to Let Politics Intrude Apparently Broken

Washington, March 14, 2019

Washington, D.C.— Representative Chellie Pingree responded to the statement yesterday by Senator Martha McSally (R-AZ) that she would vote to uphold President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to build a border wall following discussions with the President, Vice President, and Acting Secretary of Defense in which she was assured that, “As a result, no Arizona military construction projects from Fiscal Year 2019 will be impacted.” Coverage of that statement available here.

In a hearing on February 20th in the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Pingree asked Robert H. McMahon, the senior Department of Defense official responsible for installations, to assure Congress that “the selection of projects is not influenced by politics, such as choosing projects in the districts of members who voted yesterday on the resolution to terminate the emergency declaration?” McMahon responded that, limited to his jurisdiction within the Defense Department, politics would not play a role in the selection of projects. House Military Construction and Veterans Affairs committee video clip available here.

“This apparent politicization, which I raised concerns about last month, has poisoned a process that was already rotten.” said Pingree. “I’m calling on the Department of Defense to proceed with all Congressionally-approved military construction projects as planned. We can address the President’s request for border wall funding during the FY2020 appropriations process.”

There are two military construction projects in Arizona, both at Luke Air Force base, that would be vulnerable to deferral if the Pentagon decided to divert their funds to the border wall.  The status of the four vulnerable projects at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, appropriated but not awarded, is no different than the Arizona projects. 

Representative Pingree and other members of the Military Construction-VA Appropriations Subcommittee will have the opportunity to further press top military installations officials on the politicization of project selection on March 26th.  

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