A military project for a middle school at Fort Campbell Army base could be in limbo since President Donald Trump declared a national emergency Friday allowing him to reallocate funds for his proposed border wall.
The $62 million project to construct Fort Campbell Middle School near the Tennessee/Kentucky border was one of the hundreds of military spending measures allocated in the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.
But the project could be on the chopping block.
Trump announced that he would free up $8 billion for his 234 miles of border wall. To do so, he would tap into a variety of government budgets including an attempt to access $3.6 billion in military construction money, according to USA TODAY.
Maj. Martin Meiners, spokesman for Fort Campbell, did not immediately return a request for comment.
The Pentagon said in a statement that while the president can reallocate funds, the government agency would play a hand in the spending.
“… this declaration of a national emergency at the southern border requiring the use of the armed forces authorizes the secretary of defense to determine whether border barriers are necessary to support the use of the armed forces and to re-direct obligated DOD MILCON funding to construct border barriers if required,” the Department of Defense said.
While it is still uncertain what projects he will tap, the move isn’t unprecedented. President George W. Bush similarly tapped into military projects after he declared a national emergency following 9/11.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, addressed the potential budget cut to the middle school on CBS’ Face The Nation on Sunday. He said the need for Trump’s border wall surpasses that of the military projects.
“It’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border,” Graham said. “We’ll get them the school they need, but right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands. Opioid addiction is going through the roof in this country … because we can’t control the flood of drugs into this country and all of it’s coming across the border.”
Two spokespeople for Sen. Rand Paul, who has spoken out against Trump’s national emergency, did not return requests for comment asking about the project potentially being cut.
“I’m disappointed with both the massive, bloated, secretive bill that just passed and with the president’s intention to declare an emergency to build a wall,” Paul tweeted this past week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s spokesman on Sunday said of the potential halt to the middle school’s construction: “… right now it’s a hypothetical, because the Acting Sec of Defense hasn’t determined what specific funds will be used.”
Following Trump’s national emergency order, McConnell took aim at Democrats and said the presidential action is a result of stonewalling by Congress.
“President Trump’s decision to announce emergency action is the predictable and understandable consequence of Democrats’ decision to put partisan obstruction ahead of the national interest,” McConnell said in a statement. “I urge my Democratic colleagues to quickly get serious, put partisanship aside, and work with the president and our homeland security experts to provide the funding needed to secure our borders as we begin the next round of appropriations.”
Rep. John Yarmuth, the lone Democrat to represent Kentucky in Washington, D.C., and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, blasted Trump for declaring the national emergency earlier in the week. He did not return a request for comment asking about the Fort Campbell school on Sunday.
“Congress gave the President the authority to declare genuine national emergencies, not to misuse this power to create a slush fund for a floundering campaign promise,” Yarmuth said in a previous statement. “The House has not ceded, and we will not cede, our Constitutional power of the purse. We will act to protect it.”